The Trump administration is missing another deadline to produce President Donald Trump's tax returns. A top House Democrat says he expects to take the administration to court as early as next week over the matter.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says in a letter Friday that he will not comply with the subpoena from the House Ways and Means Committee for six years of Trump's tax returns because the request "lacks a legitimate legislative purpose."

Mnuchin's rejection of the subpoena had been expected. Earlier Friday, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal had said, "We will likely proceed to court as quickly as next week."

Democrats are seeking Trump's tax returns under a 1924 law that directs the IRS to furnish such information to the chairs of Congress' tax-writing committees.

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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says it's up to the courts to referee his dispute with House Democrats demanding access to President Donald Trump's tax returns.

Mnuchin tells a Senate panel that the fight between the administration and Rep. Richard Neal, the House Ways and Means Committee chairman, "will go to the third branch of government to be resolved."

Mnuchin is sticking to earlier arguments that Neal's demand for Trump's taxes would set a precedent that lawmakers could pursue confidential tax information for political purposes.

Mnuchin calls it "a very important issue that has a precedent way beyond any one president and Congress."

Neal, a Massachusetts Democrat, has subpoenaed six years' worth of Trump's returns. He's set a Friday deadline for the IRS to deliver them.

Last week President Trump acknowledged taking massive tax write offs for real estate losses topping $1 billion from the mid-1980s to mid-1990s, calling it “sport” among developers like himself during that period.

Trump was reacting to a New York Times report Tuesday that his businesses lost more than $1 billion from 1985 to 1994. The newspaper said its reporting was based on printouts it acquired of Trump’s official IRS tax transcripts, including figures from his federal tax form.

Trump reported business losses of $46.1 million in 1985, and a total of $1.17 billion in losses for the 10-year period.

The president appeared to defend his actions in a pair of tweets early Wednesday.

“Real estate developers in the 1980′s & 1990′s, more than 30 years ago, were entitled to massive write offs and depreciation which would, if one was actively building, show losses and tax losses in almost all cases,” Trump tweeted. He contended the reported losses were “non monetary.”

“Sometimes considered ‘tax shelter,’ you would get it by building, or even buying. You always wanted to show losses for tax purposes....almost all real estate developers did - and often re-negotiate with banks, it was sport,” Trump said.

He claimed the Times report was a “highly inaccurate Fake News hit job!” based on old information.

After comparing Trump’s information with that of other “high-income earners,” the Times concluded that Trump “appears to have lost more money than nearly any other individual American taxpayer.” Because of his business losses, the newspaper reported, Trump did not pay income taxes for eight of the 10 years.

Trump is the first president since Watergate to decline to make his tax returns public.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)