Politics

NJ Bill Would Force Trump To Release His Tax Returns

| by Kathryn Schroeder

A bill that would force future presidential and vice presidential candidates to disclose their federal tax returns if they want to be on New Jersey's ballot is on Republican Gov. Chris Christie's desk.

The state's Democratic-controlled legislature approved the bill on March 16, The Hill notes of a report from The Wall Street Journal. 

Christie, an ally of President Donald Trump, is expected to veto the legislation, according to NJ Advance Media. If he does sign it into law, then every candidate, including Trump should he seek re-election in 2020, will be required to release five years of their personal tax returns.

Trump is the only presidential candidate since 1976 who chose to not release his tax returns to the public while running for president. Critics suggest his tax returns may show conflicts of interests related to his business ties.

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"This is an issue of national security, as well as transparency," Democratic state Assemblyman John McKeon, a main sponsor of the bill, said on March 16.

Republican state Assemblyman Jay Webber is against the legislation, calling it "transparently political" and "blatantly unconstitutional."

Webber called for Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto to "pull this bill down before this body embarrasses itself."

Brian Murray, a spokesman for Christie's office, would not say whether the governor plans to sign or veto the bill.

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"Our long-standing policy remains, we do not discuss pending or proposed legislation until a final bill has reached out office and we have had ample time to thoroughly review it," he said.

If Christie veto's the bill, then it is possible the Legislature will attempt to override it. Democrats could also wait until he leaves office in January and try again, Prieto noted.

At least 21 other states have introduced a similar measure because of Trump's refusal to release his tax returns.

New Mexico, Hawaii, Oregon and California are considering similar bills, according to The Hill. 

A leaked copy of Trump's IRS 1040 tax form became public on March 14, showing he paid $38 million in taxes on income of more than $150 million in 2005, according to CNN. 

The White House confirmed the figures.

The 1040 did not give specific details on Trump's business dealings.

"Only complete returns can resolve the questions swirling around his alleged financial obligations and sources of income, such as Russian oligarchs or other sovereign countries," Edward Kleinbard, the Johnson Professor of Law and Business at USC Gould School of Law and a former chief of staff at the Joint Committee on Taxation, said.

Sources: The Hill, NJ Advance Media, CNN / Photo credit: Michael Vadon/Flickr

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