U.S. House panel sues U.S. Treasury, IRS over Trump's tax returns

WASHINGTON, July 2 (Reuters) - A House of Representatives panel filed suit on Tuesday against the U.S. Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service, as it wrangled to obtain President Donald Trump's tax returns.

The Democratic-led House Ways and Means Committee filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after the Treasury Department refused a request for tax information about the Republican president.

"In refusing to comply with the statute, Defendants have mounted an extraordinary attack on the authority of Congress to obtain information needed to conduct oversight of Treasury, the IRS, and the tax laws on behalf of the American people," the lawsuit said.

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The lawsuit said the committee believes it was the first time an administration has denied such a request.

The committee is one of half a dozen that are conducting investigations involving Trump and his administration, from his campaign's contacts with Russians during the 2016 presidential race to the sprawling business interests he has not divested since taking office.

The White House is refusing to cooperate with most of them, setting up potential legal battles like this one.

Democrats have pressed Trump to release tax records from 2013 to 2018, which legal experts said could shed light on the president’s business dealings. Such a legal process, experts said, could unfold slowly and become an issue in the 2020 election.

The lawsuit, which also names Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, said the administration's continued refusal to produce the materials "is depriving the Committee of information necessary to complete its time-limited investigation, thereby impeding its most basic constitutional functions."

It asked the court to force the administration to comply. (Reporting by Susan Heavey; Writing by Doina Chiacu; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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