The law does not require Donald Trump to release his tax returns.
For almost half a century, presidential candidates have released their tax returns to the American public. In 1992, former president Bill Clinton released 12 years of tax returns. Four years later, Senator Bob Dole released 30 years’ worth.
These are extreme examples, as candidates more often release a few years of documentation for the American public to scrutinize.
There is no law, however, that mandates candidates to release these records. It is a tradition, but not a requirement.
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Technically speaking, Trump does not have to release his tax returns.
Furthermore, he should not have to release them. Voters’ desires to read the reports are backed completely by malicious intent.
Trump’s chief strategist, Paul Manafort, told The Huffington Post that “the only people who want the tax returns are the people who want to defeat him."
Anti-Trump groups are hoping to uncover information reminiscent of evocative material found in Mitt Romney’s tax release in 2008. The former GOP candidate’s returns showed that he had paid less in taxes than the average individual with his income and level of comfort.
Those who oppose Trump want the current Republican nominee to release the information so that they can learn all of his alleged secrets.
As Trump told The Associated Press in May, however, “There’s nothing to learn from them.”
The American public has to take this comment at face-value. If Trump says there is nothing relevant to the 2016 election in his tax returns, voters must believe him.
Manafort also told The Huffington Post that the tax returns would be too complicated for civilians to understand anyway. He said, “I wouldn’t understand them, so how are the American people going to?”
He added, “The financial disclosure he put out gives the salient points.” Anyone seeking information on the businessman’s transactions and the history of his foundation can refer to this disclosure for a satisfactory amount of information.
Releasing Trump’s tax returns would create a waste of time and energy. Manafort said, “It’s not really an issue for the people we are appealing to.” Now that Trump is trailing Clinton significantly in the polls, his campaign must focus on reacquiring support from lost voters through more effective means than releasing documents irrelevant to the election.
Legally, Trump is not required to release his returns. Strategically, the release is not worthwhile. Donald Trump does not owe the American public a copy of his tax returns.