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Feb. 28, 2017 – When President Donald Trump addresses Congress on Tuesday, George Yin, the University of Virginia School of Law professor who explained how Congress can obtain and reveal the president’s tax returns without his consent, will be there.
Yin, a tax law expert who served as chief of staff of the U.S. Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation (2003-05), which is one of the most influential tax positions in the country, will be the guest of Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey during the joint session of Congress.
According to Yin, the law gives the congressional tax committees the authority to obtain and disclose tax returns without the taxpayer’s consent so long as the committees have a legitimate purpose, such as to investigate and disclose possible conflicts of interest.
Ever since the businessman-president broke with the common practice of presidents over the last 40 years and refused to reveal his tax returns, interest in scrutinizing them has run high. A WhiteHouse.gov petition demanding the returns surpassed a million signatures and the issue has arisen at many town halls.
“With the congressional authority, members of Congress can no longer blame the absence of information solely on the president’s intransigence,” Yin said. “Those refusing to exercise the authority will need to explain why they too support the same secrecy and oppose the public’s right to know.”
Pascrell has been an outspoken proponent of congressional action. A member of the House Ways & Means Committee, he sent a letter Feb. 1 to the committee’s chairman, Kevin Brady, asking him to submit a formal request for Trump’s returns from the past 10 years.
Yin described the authority of the tax committees to obtain the returns in a Feb. 7 op-ed for The Washington Post. He explained the law in more detail in the Feb. 20 edition of the tax-industry publication Tax Notes.
“Some misinformation has been spread by those opposed to exercising the congressional authority, so I thought it would be useful to explain the law as I understand it,” Yin said.