If one senator has his way, all presidential candidates will be forced to release their tax returns in order to be eligible for the White House.
Democratic State Sen. Brad Hoylman of New York introduced the T.R.U.M.P. (Tax Returns Uniformly Made Public) Act on Dec. 6, which would ban the state's members of the Electoral College from voting for any presidential candidate who fails to release at least five years of tax returns to the New York State board of elections at least 50 days before the public casts their ballots, reports BuzzFeed News.
Hoylman said that the bill was inspired by its namesake, after Donald Trump broke with decades of political tradition by refusing to release his returns during his campaign.
"The practice of releasing tax returns has been standard practice for the simple reason that American presidential candidates should be held to a higher standard of transparency," Hoylman said in a statement posted to his official New York State Senate website. "When long standing democratic norms are threatened, it becomes necessary to codify them into law. That's the purpose of the T.R.U.M.P. Act."
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Citing ongoing audits, Trump refused to make his tax information public, though a report that the New York Times obtained in October 2016 states that the president-elect reported a $916 million loss in 1995 and may have avoided paying federal income tax for 18 years after that. The Trump team did not confirm or deny the report.
"For over four decades, tax returns have given voters an important window into the financial holdings and potential conflicts-of-interest of presidential candidates," Holyman said in a statement. "Sadly, President-elect Donald Trump repeatedly refused to release copies of his federal income taxes prior to the election, denying voters this crucial information. This isn't normal."
Holyman is looking to have his bill passed and enacted into law by 2020, in time for the next presidential election, though he could face an uphill battle against a Republican majority in the legislature with a bill that could discourage businessmen from running for president, notes BuzzFeed.
"I think this is model legislation for legislatures across the country," Hoylman told BuzzFeed. "Voters were denied an important perspective on the candidate's potential conflicts of interests as well as their financial well-being and how much he gave to charity."