WASHINGTON ― A group of Democratic senators on Wednesday reintroduced legislation that would require President-elect Donald Trump to release his tax returns, a practice of most candidates for elected office that Trump repeatedly ducked during his presidential campaign.
The Presidential Tax Transparency Act, sponsored by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), would mandate that sitting presidents and presidential candidates disclose at least three years of tax information. The bill was first offered in May during the previous session of Congress, where it failed to advance.
“The fact that the president-elect refuses to release his tax returns is a tragic failure of transparency, and it needs to be corrected,” Wyden said in a press release. “With President-Elect Trump flouting bipartisan traditions of disclosure while engaging with foreign leaders at the highest level, it’s more important than ever to ensure that the Commander-in-Chief isn’t playing by a different set of rules.”
Trump repeatedly refused to disclose his tax information during his campaign, claiming he was under an IRS audit. However, the IRS affirmed “nothing prevents individuals from sharing their own tax information.” President Richard Nixon released his tax information while under audit.
Democrats accused Trump of attempting to avoid scrutiny and accountability.
Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns makes him the first presidential nominee since Gerald Ford to skirt the practice.
The New York Times reported in October that Trump may not have paid federal taxes for nearly two decades and resorted to an elaborate and legally questionable tax loophole. During a presidential debate, Trump admitted that he took a large tax deduction, bragging that his tax evasion “makes me smart.”
Since the election, Trump has faced renewed scrutiny over his business conflicts of interest and has evaded questions about how he would resolve them as president.
Legislators in several predominantly Democratic states have introduced legislation similar to the federal measure that would require presidential candidates to disclose their tax information in order to appear on the ballot. New York state Sen. Brad Hoylman (D) called his bill the Tax Returns Uniformly Made Public, or TRUMP, Act.