Congress has the authority to obtain and reveal the confidential tax information of any taxpayer, including the president, without the taxpayer’s consent. Democrats have made many attempts to get Congress to use that authority to obtain President Trump’s tax returns. More than a million people have signed a White House petition asking for the same information. So why hasn’t Congress acted? Politics is an obvious factor. Only two Republicans have broken with their party, and they along with Democrats were thwarted again just this week. But GOP leaders do offer other reasons for their resistance. For instance, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch say the authority should not be used to target the tax information of individual citizens. If Congress were to “rummage around in the tax returns of the president,” Brady asked, what would prevent it from “doing the same to average Americans?” According to the Supreme Court, Congress must have a legitimate reason for carrying out any investigation. But reviewing Trump’s individual and business tax returns would be the furthest thing from an unjustified wild goose chase. His extensive business interests, including possible ties to Russia, present many potential conflicts with his duties to the American public that should be investigated. Indeed, Congress created the authority in 1924 in part for exactly this purpose. Congress wanted to investigate and reveal possible conflicts of interest involving both Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon and the executive branch officials involved in the Teapot Dome scandal. Moreover, the president’s tax returns should show how he and his businesses will be affected by any tax proposals of his administration. The recently leaked two pages of the president’s 2005 tax return revealed that about 85% of his liability in that year was due to the alternative minimum tax, a measure Trump has urged should be repealed. Will his tax proposals cut his taxes by 85% or more? This concern was also present in 1924. Congress wanted to know how Treasury tax proposals would personally affect Mellon and his business interests. Brady and Hatch have also suggested that the congressional authority was intended to be used only to investigate tax administration concerns, such as misconduct by federal officials or abuse of taxpayer rights. But the law contains no such limitation. Before its passage, the president and the executive branch – but not the Congress – had an unrestricted ability to obtain anyone’s tax information. Congress approved the law to give it the same unrestricted access as its co-equal branch of government. Moreover, the president’s taxes present a tax administration concern. He has stated repeatedly that his returns are being audited by the IRS. Congress needs to make sure the tax agency is treating him like any other taxpayer and not granting him special favors. Possible favoritism provided by the tax agency to Mellon was another worry in 1924. The parallels between the current situation and the reasons the law was created are very, very close. Finally, the public has a right to know about the president’s taxes simply because he is now the taxpayer in chief. As many of us struggle to complete our own tax returns and pay any applicable taxes, we should receive assurance that the president is paying his fair share. In 1973 and 1974, Congress used the law to investigate President Nixon’s taxes and found (and disclosed to the public) that he owed about $500,000 in additional tax. During the past 40 years, presidents of both parties have voluntarily released their tax information to the public. Because Trump has refused to do so, Congress through its tax committees should obtain the information and make appropriate disclosures in order to affirm the public’s right to know.