Treasury to conduct policy review of tax-exempt status for universities after Trump tweets

Source: The Hill | July 31, 2020 | Naomi Jagoda

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin anticipates that his department will conduct a review of guidance related to the tax-exempt status of universities after President Trump tweeted earlier this month that he wanted the department to re-examine schools’ tax exemptions.

“Secretary Mnuchin expects that Treasury’s Office of Tax Policy will conduct a policy review of the generally applicable regulations and guidance implicated by the President’s comment,” Treasury’s deputy general counsel told inspectors general for the department.

The inspectors general relayed the response on Friday to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.).

Trump on July 10 asked Treasury to look into universities’ tax-exempt status, arguing that many institutions “are about Radical Left Indoctrination, not Education.” The president’s tweets came as he was pressing schools to physically reopen in the fall.

“Too many Universities and School Systems are about Radical Left Indoctrination, not Education,” Trump tweeted. “Therefore, I am telling the Treasury Department to re-examine their Tax-Exempt Status and/or Funding, which will be taken away if this Propaganda or Act Against Public Policy continues.”

The tweets drew concerns from Neal, who called for oversight of Trump’s demand. Neal noted in letters to the IRS and to Treasury’s inspectors general that under the federal tax code, it is unlawful for the president to request that the IRS investigate specific taxpayers.

Treasury’s Office of the Inspector General and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) told Neal on Friday that according to Treasury’s deputy general counsel, Treasury has referred the portion of Trump’s tweets relating to higher education funding to the Education Department. The deputy general counsel also said that to the best of the general counsel office’s knowledge, no one has been directed to investigate any particular school.

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