Apr 5, 2020 - Politics & Policy

How the coronavirus could shield Trump's tax returns

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court canceled all oral arguments through early April due to COVID-19. Photo: Ting Shen/Xinhua via Getty Images

Here's an under-the-radar side effect of the coronavirus pandemic: It might spare President Trump from having to release his tax returns before the election.

Why it matters: The Supreme Court was supposed to hear arguments last month over whether House Democrats had the legal authority to subpoena Trump's financial records.

  • Those subpoenas were delivered to Trump's banks and accounting firms, not Trump himself. If the court ultimately rules that they were legal, the banks would likely have to turn over the relevant records almost immediately.

Those arguments had been scheduled for March 31 — which, on the court's usual timeline, would most likely set up a ruling in the last few days of June.

  • But the court postponed some of its March arguments as the coronavirus lockdown began, and on Friday it postponed all oral arguments for the rest of the term.

What happens next is unclear. The court said it would "consider" rescheduling some of these postponed arguments for later this term, if circumstances allow, and would "consider a range of scheduling options and other alternatives" if the court building isn't available.

  • The other option, though, and maybe the logistically easiest one for the tech-averse Supreme Court, would be to simply push this term's arguments into the next term, which doesn't start until October.
  • Either way, the case on Trump's taxes was in line to be one of the last big rulings on the court's calendar before the election. And so these delays create at least some possibility that it could slide until after Election Day.
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