Biden's IRS could give Trump's tax returns to Democrats

Yahoo Finance's Rick Newman joins Kristin Myers to discuss the possibilty of President Trump's tax returns being handed over to the Democtats.

Video Transcript

KRISTIN MYERS: Let's talk now about Trump's tax returns because once President-elect Joe Biden takes office, he could instruct his Treasury Department to simply hand them over to the Democrats.

We've got Yahoo Finance's Rick Newman here with that. So, Rick, how likely is it that maybe sometime in January, February, March that you and I will be having a discussion about what is in or not in Trump's tax returns?

RICK NEWMAN: Well, it's possible, and it's also an intriguing possibility. So it turns out there's a 1924 law that says the IRS has to turn over anybody's tax returns upon request to the chairs of the House Ways and Means Committee or the Senate Finance Committee, and that would include the president.

Now, Democrats in the House, they certainly wanted to get President Trump's tax returns, but they didn't ask the Treasury Department for it because the Treasury Department or the Trump IRS was not likely to do that. So they tried to get that tax information through Trump's bank and through his accounting firm, and that has basically been rebuffed in the courts.

But once Biden is president, he doesn't even have to tell his Treasury Secretary or his IRS commissioner to do anything. He could just sit on his hands and stay quiet because if Congress-- if these certain members of Congress were to ask for Trump's tax return, the IRS would have to turn them over.

So it remains a political-- an interesting political question whether they would actually do that and what the strategy might be. There certainly are a lot of Democrats who really want to see Trump's tax returns and perhaps see him politically embarrassed. But on the other hand, Biden has said he wants to be a unifier, and this would not be very unifying. At a minimum, it would embarrass his predecessor and just give Trump all that more to complain about.

KRISTIN MYERS: OK, but how likely is it because, as you mentioned, Democrats have been clamoring for the tax returns. The American public has been clamoring for the tax returns. And if they now that President-elect Biden can simply just with a snap of his fingers essentially have the IRS hand it over to them, do you honestly think this is something that he is going to fight, or do you think that perhaps once President Trump leaves office, everyone just kind of forgets about--

RICK NEWMAN: I honestly have trouble seeing-- if it were just up to Biden making a decision, I actually have trouble seeing him doing it. First of all, it's not relevant to Biden's agenda, and there's a lot that Biden wants to get done. Second of all, it really would just create more partisan rancor. And if you're Biden and you have run as a pragmatist and a centrist, you have to ask yourself, what purpose is this going to serve? For people who want some kind of revenge on Trump or just want to really jab him, sure, it sounds like something that might be fun to do.

There is kind of a legislative purpose for doing this because it's possible Congress could actually pass a law making it a requirement for presidential candidates to release their tax returns. But again, unlikely Republicans in the Senate would go along with that.

So I think this would mostly just be a massively provocative act, and I don't think Biden would do it. Do you think otherwise?

KRISTIN MYERS: I don't. I don't see him doing it. Democrats tend not to be too vindictive in the same way as Republicans.

RICK NEWMAN: I mean, there's also this question of how much do ordinary people really care about Trump's tax returns and--

KRISTIN MYERS: They care, Rick. They definitely care.

RICK NEWMAN: Well, they'll care a little. A lot of people really care, but they will care a little bit less once Trump is no longer president.