Mnuchin says he'll 'follow the law' on Trump tax returns

WASHINGTON (AP) — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday that his department intends to "follow the law" and is reviewing a request by a top House Democrat to provide President Donald Trump's tax returns to lawmakers.

Mnuchin also revealed that Treasury Department lawyers have talked to the White House counsel's office about the question of releasing Trump's returns, telling lawmakers that the consultations occurred before the request arrived last week. Mnuchin said the conversations were "purely informational" and he has not been briefed on their content.

40 PHOTOS
Demonstrators wearing yellow vests riot, torch cars to protest against higher diesel fuel taxes in Paris
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Demonstrators wearing yellow vests riot, torch cars to protest against higher diesel fuel taxes in Paris
A man takes a snapshot of charred cars the day after a demonstration, near the Arc de Triomphe, in Paris, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018. A protest against rising taxes and the high cost of living turned into a riot in the French capital, as activists torched cars, smashed windows, looted stores and tagged the Arc de Triomphe with multi-colored graffiti. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
A charred car is pictured the day after a demonstration, near the Arc de Triomphe, in Paris, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018. A protest against rising taxes and the high cost of living turned into a riot in the French capital, as activists torched cars, smashed windows, looted stores and tagged the Arc de Triomphe with multi-colored graffiti. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Graffitis are pictured on the Arc de Triomphe the day after a demonstration, in Paris, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018. A protest against rising taxes and the high cost of living turned into a riot in the French capital, as activists torched cars, smashed windows, looted stores and tagged the Arc de Triomphe with multi-colored graffiti. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Workers are about to clean a graffiti, center, reading "yellow jackets will triumph" on the Arc de Triomphe the day after a demonstration, in Paris, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018. A protest against rising taxes and the high cost of living turned into a riot in the French capital, as activists torched cars, smashed windows, looted stores and tagged the Arc de Triomphe with multi-colored graffiti. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
A woman takes a snapshot of charred cars the day after a demonstration, near the Arc de Triomphe, in Paris, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018. A protest against rising taxes and the high cost of living turned into a riot in the French capital, as activists torched cars, smashed windows, looted stores and tagged the Arc de Triomphe with multi-colored graffiti. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
A worker is about to clean a graffiti reading " Macron resignation" on the Arc de Triomphe the day after a demonstration, in Paris, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018. A protest against rising taxes and the high cost of living turned into a riot in the French capital, as activists torched cars, smashed windows, looted stores and tagged the Arc de Triomphe with multi-colored graffiti. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
A charred car is pictured the day after a demonstration, near the Arc de Triomphe, in Paris, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018. A protest against rising taxes and the high cost of living turned into a riot in the French capital, as activists torched cars, smashed windows, looted stores and tagged the Arc de Triomphe with multi-colored graffiti. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Demonstrator push charred car during a demonstration Saturday, Dec.1, 2018 in Paris. Protesters angry about rising taxes clashed with French police for a third straight weekend and over 100 were arrested after pockets of demonstrators built barricades in the middle of streets in central Paris, lit fires and threw rocks at officers Saturday. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Demonstrators are pictured from the top of the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs-Elysees avenue during a demonstration Saturday, Dec.1, 2018 in Paris. Demonstrations against rising taxes turned into scenes of rioting in Paris city center as at least 65 people including 11 police officers have been injured in violent protests in the French capital. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
A broken sculpture of Marianne, symbol of the French Repupblic, appears damaged in the gallery inside the Arc de Triomphe during a demonstration Saturday, Dec.1, 2018 in Paris. A French protest against rising taxes and the high cost of living turned into a riot Saturday in Paris as police fired tear gas and water cannon in street battles with activists wearing the fluorescent yellow vests of a new movement. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
A demonstrator leaves as water cannons evacuate the Place de l'Etoile, near the Arc de Triomphe, Saturday, Dec.1, 2018 in Paris. A French protest against rising taxes and the high cost of living turned into a riot Saturday in Paris as police fired tear gas and water cannon in street battles with activists wearing the fluorescent yellow vests of a new movement. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
A demonstrator watches a burning car near the Champs-Elysees avenue during a demonstration Saturday, Dec.1, 2018 in Paris. French authorities have deployed thousands of police on Paris' Champs-Elysees avenue to try to contain protests by people angry over rising taxes and Emmanuel Macron's presidency. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
A hooded demonstrator throws an large wooden piece onto a fire during a demonstration Saturday, Dec.1, 2018 in Paris. Protesters angry about rising taxes clashed with French police for a third straight weekend and over 100 were arrested after pockets of demonstrators built barricades in the middle of streets in central Paris, lit fires and threw rocks at officers Saturday. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
A hooded demonstrator throws an item as a car buns during a demonstration Saturday, Dec.1, 2018 in Paris. Protesters angry about rising taxes clashed with French police for a third straight weekend and over 100 were arrested after pockets of demonstrators built barricades in the middle of streets in central Paris, lit fires and threw rocks at officers Saturday. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Hooded demonstrators smash a car during a demonstration Saturday, Dec.1, 2018 in Paris. Protesters angry about rising taxes clashed with French police for a third straight weekend and over 100 were arrested after pockets of demonstrators built barricades in the middle of streets in central Paris, lit fires and threw rocks at officers Saturday. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
A demonstrator runs pas a burning car during a demonstration Saturday, Dec.1, 2018 in Paris. Protesters angry about rising taxes clashed with French police for a third straight weekend and over 100 were arrested after pockets of demonstrators built barricades in the middle of streets in central Paris, lit fires and threw rocks at officers Saturday. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Demonstrators stand by the words "yellow jackets will triumph" written in black letters at the base of the Arc de Triomphe during a demonstration Saturday, Dec.1, 2018 in Paris. Paris police say at least 63 people have been arrested in violent clashes between protesters and police amid nationwide demonstrations against rising taxes and President Emmanuel Macron's policies. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Un manifestante pasa frente a una barricada cerca del Arco del Triunfo en los Campos Elíseos, durante una protesta el sábado 1 de diciembre de 2018, en París. (AP Foto/Kamil Zihnioglu)
A demonstrator holds a French flag near the Arc de Triomphe during a demonstration Saturday, Dec.1, 2018 in Paris. Paris police say at least 63 people have been arrested in violent clashes between protesters and police amid nationwide demonstrations against rising taxes and President Emmanuel Macron's policies. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Demonstrators wearing yellow jackets face water cannons near the Champs-Elysees avenue during a demonstration Saturday, Dec.1, 2018 in Paris. French authorities have deployed thousands of police on Paris' Champs-Elysees avenue to try to contain protests by people angry over rising taxes and Emmanuel Macron's presidency. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Manifestantes vistiendo chalecos amarillos protestan en el Arco del Triunfo, durante los enfrentamientos con la policía el sábado 1 de diciembre de 2018, en París. (AP Foto/Thibault Camus)
Demonstrators, known as they yellow jackets, protest in Marseille, southern France, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, against rising fuel costs and what they claim were dilapidated residential buildings that collapsed Monday Nov. 5, killing eight people. French authorities on Saturday deployed some thousands of police on Paris' Champs-Elysees avenue to try to contain protests by people angry over rising taxes and President Emmanuel Macron's government. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
Demonstrators clash with police near burning barricades in Marseille, southern France, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, during protests against what they claim were dilapidated residential buildings that collapsed Monday Nov. 5, killing eight people. French authorities on Saturday deployed some thousands of police on Paris' Champs-Elysees avenue to try to contain protests by people angry over rising taxes and President Emmanuel Macron's government. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
A demonstrator kicks a teargas canister away during clashes with police in Marseille, southern France, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, during protests against what they claim were dilapidated residential buildings that collapsed Monday Nov. 5, killing eight people. French authorities on Saturday deployed some thousands of police on Paris' Champs-Elysees avenue to try to contain protests by people angry over rising taxes and President Emmanuel Macron's government. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
A man records the scene through clouds of teargas as demonstrators clash with police in Marseille, southern France, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, during protests against what they claim were dilapidated residential buildings that collapsed Monday Nov. 5, killing eight people. French authorities on Saturday deployed some thousands of police on Paris' Champs-Elysees avenue to try to contain protests by people angry over rising taxes and President Emmanuel Macron's government. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
Police clash with demonstrators as Christmas trees burn in Marseille, southern France, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, during protests against what they claim were dilapidated residential buildings that collapsed Monday Nov. 5, killing eight people. French authorities on Saturday deployed some thousands of police on Paris' Champs-Elysees avenue to try to contain protests by people angry over rising taxes and President Emmanuel Macron's government. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
Demonstrators run through clouds of teargas during clashes with police in Marseille, southern France, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, during protests against what they claim were dilapidated residential buildings that collapsed Monday Nov. 5, killing eight people. French authorities on Saturday deployed some thousands of police on Paris' Champs-Elysees avenue to try to contain protests by people angry over rising taxes and President Emmanuel Macron's government. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
Demonstrators clash with police in Marseille, southern France, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, during protests against what they claim were dilapidated residential buildings that collapsed Monday Nov. 5, killing eight people. French authorities on Saturday deployed some thousands of police on Paris' Champs-Elysees avenue to try to contain protests by people angry over rising taxes and President Emmanuel Macron's government. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
Police take position near a burning police car as they face demonstrators in Marseille, southern France, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, protesting against what they claim were dilapidated residential buildings that collapsed Monday Nov. 5, killing eight people. French authorities on Saturday deployed some thousands of police on Paris' Champs-Elysees avenue to try to contain protests by people angry over rising taxes and President Emmanuel Macron's government. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
Police take position near to burning barricades made from garbage, as they face demonstrators in Marseille, southern France, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, protesting against what they claim were dilapidated residential buildings that collapsed Monday Nov. 5, killing eight people. French authorities on Saturday deployed some thousands of police on Paris' Champs-Elysees avenue to try to contain protests by people angry over rising taxes and President Emmanuel Macron's government. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
Police take position near to burning barricades made from garbage, as they face demonstrators in Marseille, southern France, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, protesting against what they claim were dilapidated residential buildings that collapsed Monday Nov. 5, killing eight people. French authorities on Saturday deployed some thousands of police on Paris' Champs-Elysees avenue to try to contain protests by people angry over rising taxes and President Emmanuel Macron's government. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
Police take position as they face demonstrators in Marseille, southern France, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, protesting against what they claim were dilapidated residential buildings that collapsed Monday Nov. 5, killing eight people. French authorities on Saturday deployed some thousands of police on Paris' Champs-Elysees avenue to try to contain protests by people angry over rising taxes and President Emmanuel Macron's government. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
France's President Emmanuel Macron shakes hand with a firefighter as he visits firefighters and riot police officers the day after a demonstration, in Paris, France December 2, 2018. Thibault Camus/Pool via REUTERS
A yellow vest hangs inside a vandalized store the morning after clashes with protesters wearing yellow vests, a symbol of a French drivers' protest against higher diesel fuel taxes, in Paris, France, December 2, 2018. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe
A yellow vest hangs inside a vandalized store front the morning after clashes with protesters wearing yellow vests, a symbol of a French drivers' protest against higher diesel fuel taxes, in Paris, France, December 2, 2018. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe
A vandalized car is seen the morning after clashes with protesters wearing yellow vests, a symbol of a French drivers' protest against higher diesel fuel taxes, in Paris, France, December 2, 2018. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe
A person makes a picture outside a vandalized restaurant the morning after clashes with protesters wearing yellow vests, a symbol of a French drivers' protest against higher diesel fuel taxes, in Paris, France, December 2, 2018. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe
A man sweeps outside a vandalized store the morning after clashes with protesters wearing yellow vests, a symbol of a French drivers' protest against higher diesel fuel taxes, in Paris, France, December 2, 2018. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe
A man jogs past a vandalized bank front the morning after clashes with protesters wearing yellow vests, a symbol of a French drivers' protest against higher diesel fuel taxes, in Paris, France, December 2, 2018. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe
A vandalized bus stop is seen the morning after clashes with protesters wearing yellow vests, a symbol of a French drivers' protest against higher diesel fuel taxes, in Paris, France, December 2, 2018. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
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But Mnuchin told a House panel that he personally has not had any communications with the president or his top staff about the department's decision on whether to provide Trump's tax returns under a nearly century-old that says the Treasury Department "shall furnish" them when requested.

"It is our intent to follow the law and that is in the process of being reviewed," Mnuchin told a House Appropriations subcommittee with responsibility for his budget.

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said in a Sunday show appearance that lawmakers will "never" see Trump's returns.

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Average tax refund in every U.S. state
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Average tax refund in every U.S. state

Texas

Average refund: $3,206

Number of refunds: 10,087,693

Total income tax refunded: $32.3 billion

Louisiana

Average refund: $3,115

Number of refunds: 1,611,412

Total income tax refunded: $5 billion

Connecticut

Average refund: $3,099

Number of refunds: 1,396,609

Total income tax refunded: $4.3 billion

Oklahoma

Average refund: $3,098

Number of refunds: 1,300,577

Total income tax refunded: $4 billion

New York

Average refund: $3,059

Number of refunds: 7,712,210

Total income tax refunded: $23.6 billion

New Jersey

Average refund: $3,013

Number of refunds: 3,479,321

Total income tax refunded: $10.5 billion

Wyoming

Average refund: $2,989

Number of refunds: 214,649

Total income tax refunded: $641.6 million

North Dakota 

Average refund: $2,983

Number of refunds: 277,422

Total income tax refunded: $827.4 million

Florida

Average refund: $2,933

Number of refunds: 7,854,538

Total income tax refunded: $23 billion

Mississippi

Average refund: $2,922

Number of refunds: 1,018,429

Total income tax refunded: $2.97 billion

California

Average refund: $2,911

Number of refunds: 13,594,703

Total income tax refunded: $39.5 billion

Washington D.C.

Average refund: $2,900

Number of refunds: 277,399

Total income tax refunded: $804.5 million

Illinois

Average refund: $2,900

Number of refunds: 4,973,653

Total income tax refunded: $14.4 billion

Maryland

Average refund: $2,861

Number of refunds: 2,329,288

Total income tax refunded: $6.7 billion

Massachusetts

Average refund: $2,850

Number of refunds: 2,704,250

Total income tax refunded: $7.7 billion

Alaska

Average refund: $2,843

Number of refunds: 276,887

Total income tax refunded: $787 million

Nevada

Average refund: $2,830

Number of refunds: 1,111,952

Total income tax refunded: $3 billion

Georgia

Average refund: $2,832

Number of refunds: 3,606,774

Total income tax refunded: $10.2 billion

Alabama

Average refund: $2,802

Number of refunds: 1,650,125

Total income tax refunded: $4.6 billion

Virginia

Average refund: $2,771

Number of refunds: 3,129,030

Total income tax refunded: $8.7 billion

Arkansas

Average refund: $2,759

Number of refunds: 989,288

Total income tax refunded: $2.7 billion

Tennessee

Average refund: $2,726

Number of refunds: 2,465,816

Total income tax refunded: $6.7 billion

Utah

Average refund: $2,681

Number of refunds: 1,033,141

Total income tax refunded: $2.8 billion

Washington

Average refund: $2,681

Number of refunds: 2,749,362

Total income tax refunded: $7.4 billion

Arizona

Average refund: $2,672

Number of refunds: 2,244,925

Total income tax refunded: $6 billion

Kansas

Average refund: $2,665

Number of refunds: 1,044,275

Total income tax refunded: $2.8 billion

New Mexico 

Average refund: $2,657

Number of refunds: 724,549

Total income tax refunded: $1.9 billion

South Dakota

Average refund: $2,651

Number of refunds: 321,372

Total income tax refunded: $852 million

West Virginia

Average refund: $2,649

Number of refunds: 649,049

Total income tax refunded: $1.7 billion

Kentucky

Average refund: $2,648

Number of refunds: 1,590,274

Total income tax refunded: $4.2 billion

Delaware

Average refund: $2,648

Number of refunds: 365,749

Total income tax refunded: $968.4 million

Rhode Island

Average refund: $2,643

Number of refunds: 436,490

Total income tax refunded: $1.1 billion

Pennsylvania

Average refund: $2,643

Number of refunds: 5,071,264

Total income tax refunded: $13.4 billion

Colorado

Average refund: $2,636

Number of refunds: 2,014,233

Total income tax refunded: $5.3 billion

North Carolina

Average refund: $2,629

Number of refunds: 3,580,471

Total income tax refunded: $9.4 billion

Nebraska

Average refund: $2,615

Number of refunds: 711,103

Total income tax refunded: $1.8 billion

Indiana

Average refund: $2,612

Number of refunds: 2,577,994

Total income tax refunded: $6.7 billion

Iowa

Average refund: $2,602

Number of refunds: 1,141,151

Total income tax refunded: $3 billion

New Hampshire

Average refund: $2,602

Number of refunds: 558,359

Total income tax refunded: $1.4 billion

Missouri

Average refund: $2,601

Number of refunds: 2,220,029

Total income tax refunded: $5.7 billion

South Carolina

Average refund: $2,569

Number of refunds: 1,719,299

Total income tax refunded: $4.4 billion

Hawaii

Average refund: $2,564

Number of refunds: 535,763

Total income tax refunded: $1.4 billion

Michigan

Average refund: $2,560

Number of refunds: 3,776,668

Total income tax refunded: $9.7 billion

Ohio

Average refund: $2,517

Number of refunds: 4,570,589

Total income tax refunded: $11.5 billion

Minnesota

Average refund: $2,516

Number of refunds: 2,112,212

Total income tax refunded: $5.3 billion

Idaho

Average refund: $2,457

Number of refunds: 561,133

Total income tax refunded: $1.4 billion

Wisconsin

Average refund: $2,436

Number of refunds: 2,236,886

Total income tax refunded: $5.4 billion

Montana

Average refund: $2,401

Number of refunds: 372,817

Total income tax refunded: $895 million

Oregon

Average refund: $2,398

Number of refunds: 1,431,924

Total income tax refunded: $3.4 billion

Vermont

Average refund: $2,392

Number of refunds: 254,192

Total income tax refunded: $608 million

Maine

Average refund: $2,336

Number of refunds: 509,896

Total income tax refunded: $1.2 billion

Average tax refund by state
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Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., requested the returns last week in a letter to Mnuchin that set a deadline of Wednesday to provide them. Mnuchin says he "looks forward to responding" but it appears clear that Treasury won't meet the deadline.

IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig faces off with the same panel Tuesday afternoon.

Neal requested six years of Trump's personal and business returns , relying on a 1924 statute that says the Treasury Department "shall furnish" them when requested. The IRS is part of Treasury.

Trump has broken with tradition by not voluntarily releasing his tax returns. He routinely says — as he did Friday — that he's under audit and therefore won't release his returns. But IRS officials have said that taxpayers under audit are free to release their returns.

GOP members of the panel rose to Trump's defense.

"We have no evidence of anything nefarious. We have no evidence that there's any wrongdoing," said Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, who said the request tramples on Trump's right to privacy. "The only this works is if the American people trust the IRS and trust this information will be held private. And if it's not, if that's violated then people will quit complying."

Democrats want access to the returns as part of investigations into Trump's business dealings and his campaign. Trump's private attorneys have asked Treasury to deny the request as well.

During the 2016 campaign, Rettig defended Trump's decision to break with tradition by refusing to release his tax filings. Under questioning at his confirmation hearing last August, Rettig pledged to uphold the political independence of the IRS.

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