A US Democrat has utilised an obscure provision in the federal tax code to do something that the party has been talking about since before the 2016 election: demand Donald Trump‘s tax returns.

Richard E. Neal, a representative of Massachusetts, delivered a request to the Internal Revenue Service – the agency responsible for handling taxation – demanding six years of Trump’s personal and business tax returns.

It is almost guaranteed that Trump’s administration will challenge this through the courts, a process which could feasibly take months.

Here’s what Neal wrote to the IRS. justifying his request:

Under the Internal Revenue Manual, individual income tax returns of a President are subject to mandatory examination, but this practice is IRS policy and not codified in the Federal tax laws. It is necessary for the committee to determine the scope of any such examination and whether it includes a review of underlying business activities required to be reported on the individual income tax return.

Why are the Democrats so focused on the tax returns? Well, it’s been a hot-button issue since before Trump was elected. The general belief is that the president’s refusal to release his tax returns – something which all presidential candidates have historically done – probably indicates that there’s something unsavoury in there.

Of course, the counterpoint here is that the Democrats have really tried everything to undermine the basic legitimacy of the Trump presidency, including inflating a Russia collusion investigation which mostly ended up as nothing, and there’s an argument that they should be attacking him on policy and vision rather than trying to get him kicked from office.

But where there’s smoke there’s fire, and it’s probably pretty likely there will be some dodgy stuff in his returns.

This is basically the culmination of many months  of speculation about whether the Democrats, now in charge of the House of Representatives, were going to pursue this. Well, they are. Let’s see how it goes for them.

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