NEW YORK >> Charles Rettig, President Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Internal Revenue Service, omitted mention on a disclosure form that the two rental properties in Hawaii in which he has a stake are at a Trump-branded resort, according to a memo by the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee.
Rettig, a tax lawyer from Beverly Hills, Calif., reported on a committee questionnaire about assets and income that he had 50 percent ownership in two rental units in Hawaii. But he didn’t include that they were located in the Trump International Hotel and Tower Waikiki Beach Walk, according to the memo obtained by Bloomberg, which was sent to members of the panel.
According to the resort’s website, the complex isn’t owned or sold by the Trump Organization or its affiliates. A Trump spokeswoman told CBS News in 2016 that the Trump Organization licensed and managed the property, but didn’t own it.
Rettig’s ownership stake and his omission of the Trump connection likely will lead to pointed questioning from members of the Finance Committee when he testifies Thursday at his confirmation hearing. Democrats already were raising questions about whether he has the management skills to run the IRS as the agency is struggling to implement the biggest tax overhaul in a generation.
The IRS post takes on added significance because Trump’s own tax returns are currently under audit by the agency, the president has said in explaining his decision not to release his returns publicly.
The memo to committee members was signed by Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, and the committee’s top Democrat, Ron Wyden of Oregon. It said committee staff raised the issue at a June 21 “due diligence meeting” and that Rettig plans to provide more details, including the full name of the property.
Julia Lawless, a spokeswoman for committee Republicans, said in an email late today that Rettig “has moved through the Finance Committee’s bipartisan vetting process in good faith, providing accurate information regarding his personal finances and other matters.”
She added that Rettig bought the properties “more than 10 years ago” and they were “disclosed and vetted in the customary way.” Members would be able “to get further clarity on this fact” during Thursday’s hearing, she added.
On a separate required form released on March 26, Rettig disclosed his ownership of “Residential Real Estate — Honolulu, HI.” He valued the properties between $1,000,001 and $5 million and reported that he received “rent or royalties” on them between $100,001 and $1 million over 12 months.
Rettig would be the first practicing tax lawyer to lead the IRS in two decades — a departure from prior commissioners who held high-level posts at private companies and regulatory agencies. He’d go from running a law firm with 12 attorneys to a perennially despised and underfunded bureaucracy with nearly 77,000 employees.
If confirmed, he would serve the remainder of a five-year term that began in November when the last commissioner left office.