Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has declined an invitation from the House’s top tax writer to testify on the partial Treasury and IRS shutdown. Federal agencies, including Treasury and the IRS, have been partially shut down since December 22, 2018. The 2019 tax filing season is scheduled to begin on January 28.
House Ways and Means Hearing
The House Ways and Means Committee has scheduled a January 24 hearing to examine how the government shutdown has affected Treasury as well as taxpayers. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., in a January 17 letter invited Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to testify before the committee on the partial government shutdown’s impact on taxpayers. According to Neal, the hearing could provide Mnuchin an opportunity to brief Congress on several items related to the ongoing partial government shutdown, including how Treasury and the IRS will handle the 2019 tax filing season.
Mnuchin Declines Ways and Means Invite
Treasury Deputy Assistant Secretary Jennifer Bang, in a letter responding to Neal’s initial request, said that senior Treasury and IRS officials could testify instead of Mnuchin. “If the purpose of the upcoming hearing is to inform Congress and the public, we are confident that goal will be best served by testimony from the senior Department officials with the deepest and broadest expertise on the subject of the hearing, as outlined in your invitation and in the press release that accompanied it,” Bang said.
Neal, however, seemingly unsatisfied with Treasury’s response, issued a statement urging Mnuchin to reconsider. “With more than 70,000 Treasury employees furloughed and missing paychecks, I strongly believe Secretary Mnuchin himself should appear before our committee and answer members’ questions,” Neal said. “Out of respect for Treasury and IRS employees, and this committee, I sincerely hope the Secretary reconsiders my request to appear before the committee next week.”
By Jessica Jeane, Senior News Editor