What Congress Can Do When A President Ignores Its Subpoenas (HBO)

Tensions between the White House and Congressional Democrats hit a new high yesterday, after Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the IRS would not turn over Donald Trump’s tax returns to the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, who requested them last month.

A 1924 law requires the IRS to obey the request, but Mnuchin said he was turning it down because it wasn’t being made a legitimate legislative purpose.

This isn’t a one-off. Instead, it’s part of a bigger pattern of Trump rejecting congressional oversight of all kinds. Today, for instance, the White House said it had instructed former White House counsel Don McGahn to ignore a congressional subpoena for documents related to the Mueller Report. And in just the past week, Attorney General William Barr refused to show up to testify at the House Judiciary Committee in a dispute over who would get to question him, and ignored a subpoena requiring him to turn over the full, unredacted Mueller Report.

Congressional Democrats are fulminating in response. But the tools they have to compel the president to cooperate with their investigations are, in practice, pretty limited. They can:

1) Vote for contempt-of-Congress charges against Trump officials who ignore subpoenas. Criminal contempt charges can result in jail time. But the catch is that any such charge has to be referred to a US Attorney for prosecution. And since US Attorneys work for Trump’s Justice Department, there’s almost no chance that those charges will ever be prosecuted.

2) File suit against the administration in court, which could result in a court order requiring the administration to obey the subpoena. But that process is a long and drawn-out one, and there’s no guarantee, in the end, that the administration would even follow the court order.

3) Take the direct route, and order the sergeant-at-arms to arrest recalcitrant Trump officials. This sounds bizarre, but the Supreme Court has held that Congress has the authority to use its own police to enforce its dictates. The problem is that the last time Congress did this was back in 1935, and trying to arrest someone like the Secretary of the Treasury would leave the Democrats in completely uncharted waters.

Which means what we’re likely to get is what we’ve been getting: Democrats complaining and Trump stonewalling.

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Thousands of IRS workers called back without pay

(17 Jan 2019) The partial government shutdown that began Dec. 22 caused roughly 420,000 federal employees to work without pay. This week, the IRS said it will recall thousands of workers to handle tax returns. (Jan. 17)

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Federal workers in Kentucky protest shutdown

(10 Jan 2019) Employees from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and other federal agencies in Kentucky took to the streets to vent their anger at the federal government shutdown. (Jan. 10)

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Divorces Are About To Get A Lot Messier When The Ball Drops On 2019 (HBO)

For married couples thinking about divorce, the end of 2018 means more than just finding someone new to kiss at midnight. Under the GOP’s tax overhaul, divorce agreements finalized after January 1, 2019 will no longer be eligible for a 75-year old tax deduction for alimony payments. But those settled before the new year will be grandfathered in under the old rules, potentially saving tens — if not hundreds — of thousand dollars over the life of a divorce settlement.

According to Jacqueline Newman, a partner at the matrimonial law firm Berkman, Bottger, Newman & Rodd, LLP in Manhattan, the holidays are usually a sleepy time for matrimonial attorneys. “You know I always say you never want to serve someone a summons in their stocking,” But with so much on the line, some lawyers are scrambling — and maybe even canceling their vacation — to get these deals inked before the ball drops.

The new tax laws might also affect the way divorce is negotiated in the future. Under the old rules, The deduction meant that alimony would cost less to the person paying for it than it was worth to the person receiving it. That incentivized more generous alimony agreements.

The new rule flips things around. Now, people who get alimony won’t have to pay taxes on it, but alimony payers won’t be able to deduct the payments from their income. In other words, paying alimony just got more expensive. According to Congressional estimates, the IRS will reap 6.9 billion dollars in new tax revenue over the next ten years from eliminating the deduction. But the people paying those taxes aren’t necessarily who you think.

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Tax Professor: IRS can reopen old tax returns

(3 Oct 2018) An NYU Law School professor says the IRS can reopen old tax returns if fraud is suspected. Tax law professor Daniel Shaviro said the taxing agency can challenge old returns on the merits and can also assert penalties if they find ‘outright fraud.” (Oct. 3)

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AP Top Stories December 14 A

Here’s the latest for Thursday, December 14th: IRS says Republican plan will save taxpayers money; Kentucky state lawmaker dead in apparent suicide; Moore not conceding, waiting for final vote count; Wintry weather in Michigan.

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‘They’d issue resurrection certificate’: US man killed off by IRS glitch

For the last 30 years an American man and his family have been trying to prove to the U.S. government that he is actually still alive.

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The Government Handout Republicans and Democrats Like

While some people dread tax season, millions of American workers look forward to the direct cash transfer they receive from the IRS each year to top off their income.

The program, known as the Earned Income Tax Credit, has surprisingly conservative roots. Along with the smaller Child Tax Credit, the credit more children out of poverty than any other government handout and has become an area Democrats and Republican can kind of agree on.

Take a look at how the Earned Income Tax Credit affects people’s lives in New York’s 15th Congressional District in the South Bronx, where more people receive the payout than in any other part of the country.

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Keiser Report: Phantom Pension Funding (E952)

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In this episode of the Keiser Report from Washington DC Max and Stacy discuss the reckless gamble that Governor John Kasich of Ohio – one of the ‘legitimate’ and ‘respectable’ candidates (as per the media) in the Republican primaries – chose to take with the state’s pension funds. In the second half they interview Francine McKenna of Marketwatch.com about what Donald Trump’s tax returns might show. Francine suggests that they would show ‘yuge’ business losses but that ordinary people wouldn’t understand investing for the specific purpose of such losses. They also discuss what the IRS audit of the Clinton Foundation might show and what the transcripts of Hillary’s talks to Goldman Sachs would show.

WATCH all Keiser Report shows here:
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL768A33676917AE90 (E1-E200)
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLC3F29DDAA1BABFCF (E201-E400)
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPszygYHA9K2ZtV_1KphSugBB7iZqbFyz (E401-600)
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPszygYHA9K1GpAv3ZKpNFoEvKaY2QFH_ (E601-E800)
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPszygYHA9K19wt4CP0tUgzIxpJDiQDyl (E801-Current)

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