Senate Democrats introduced a bill on Jan. 4 that would require President-elect Donald Trump to release his tax returns after breaking with tradition and declining to do so during his campaign.
Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, who is the Senate Financial Committee's ranking Democrat, officially introduced the Presidential Tax Transparency Act, which would require sitting presidents and presidential nominees to disclose the most recent three years of tax returns to the Federal Election Commission, reports Accounting Today. Should they decline to do so, the law would mandate the Treasury Secretary to send the returns to the Office of Government Ethics (for a sitting president) or the Federal Election Commission (for a candidate) to be released to the public.
Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Tim Kaine of Virginia, Dianne Feinstein of California, Ben Cardin of Maryland, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Chris Murphy of Connecticut, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Michael Bennet of Colorado, and Tom Udall of New Mexico co-sponsored the legislation.
"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 Jan. 4 statement, according to Accounting Today. "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."
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Trump was the first presidential nominee to refrain from releasing his tax returns since the Nixon administration and said that he was unable to do so because of pending routine IRS audits, which his attorneys said had been under "continuous examination" since 2002.
The IRS said that people may still release their tax information during an audit, and many Democrats have questioned whether Trump was hiding something, such as tax evasion, foreign business ties to Russia or other conflicts of interest, by not publicizing the returns, notes The Hill.
Wyden sponsored an earlier version of the bill in 2016, though he reintroduced it with modifications that would apply to both sitting presidents and nominees after Trump's inauguration.
Accounting Today notes that the partisan bill is unlikely to pass through the Republican-dominated Congress.