The US Supreme Court has paved the way for the handover of former president Donald Trump’s tax returns to Congress after a three-year legal battle.
The court rejected Mr Trump’s emergency application for an order that would have prevented the Treasury Department from giving six years of tax returns for him and some of his businesses to the House Ways and Means Committee.
Mr Trump was the first president in four decades not to release his tax returns.
The Democratic-controlled committee had first requested Mr Trump’s tax returns in 2019 as part of an investigation into the Internal Revenue Service’s audit programme and tax law compliance by the former president.
The Treasury Department had refused to provide the records during Mr Trump’s presidency, but President Joe Biden’s administration said federal law is clear that the committee has the right to examine any taxpayer’s return, including the president’s.
Lower courts agreed and rejected Mr Trump’s claims it was overstepping and that the committee only wanted the documents to make them public.
Chief Justice John Roberts imposed a temporary freeze on 1 November to allow the court to weigh in on the legal issues raised by Mr Trump’s lawyer and the counterarguments of the administration and House of Representatives.
But just over three weeks later, the justices denied Mr Trump’s emergency application, with no justice publicly dissenting.
If Mr Trump had persuaded the Supreme Court to intervene, he could have run out the clock on the committee until the Republicans take control of the House in January, when they almost certainly would have dropped the records request had it not been resolved by then.
Third loss this year
It is the third time Mr Trump has lost at the Supreme Court this year.
In October, it refused to step into the legal fight surrounding the FBI search of his Florida estate, where classified documents were discovered. In January, it refused to stop the National Archives from turning over documents to the House committee investigating the 6 January insurrection at the US Capitol.
Last week, Mr Trump officially launched a third bid for the US presidency, saying: “America’s comeback starts right now.”
Making the announcement from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, he said “everybody was doing great” after his four years in office, “the world was at peace” and he “kept his promises”.
“Two years ago we were a great nation. And soon we will be a great nation again,” the former US president added.