Former U.S. President Donald Trump leaves Trump Tower in Manhattan on July 19, 2021 in New York City.
James Devaney | GC Images | Getty Images

The income tax returns of former President Donald Trump must be released by the IRS to Congress, the Department of Justice said Friday.

The DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel said in an opinion that the House Ways and Means Committee had made a request with a legitimate legislative purpose to see Trump’s tax returns.

“The Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee has invoked sufficient reasons for requesting the former President’s tax information,” the opinion said.

As a result, under federal law, “Treasury must furnish the information to the Committee,” the opinion said.

The decision comes more than a year after the U.S. Supreme Court said that Trump’s tax returns and other financial records had to be turned over by his longtime accountants to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., because of a subpoena issued as part of Vance’s criminal probe of the Trump Organization.

Trump broke decades of precedent as both a presidential candidate and occupant of the White House by refusing to voluntarily release his income tax returns.

The opinion Friday by the DOJ’s legal counsel office came in response to a long-standing effort by Congress to obtain Trump’s returns.

The opinion noted that the tax committees of Congress, while having a “broad right to receive tax information” from the Treasury Department, “cannot compel the Executive Branch to disclose such information without satisfying the constitutional requirement that the information could serve a legitimate legislative purpose.”

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