Society

The Significance Of Trump Withholding Tax Returns

| by Robert Fowler
Republican presidential candidate Donald TrumpRepublican presidential candidate Donald Trump

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump may not release his tax returns before the general election, and in doing so, he'll be flouting a 40-year presidential tradition.

On May 10, the business mogul told the Associated Press that he was unlikely to release his returns before November, adding, "There’s nothing to learn from them."

Trump had previously explained that he will not release his taxes because his returns since 2009 have been undergoing an IRS audit.

In February, the IRS released a statement that undercut Trump’s claim, clarifying, "Nothing prevents individuals from sharing their own tax information," CNN reports.

Adjunct college professor Dr. Joseph J. Thorndike, director of the Tax History Project, told The New York Times that every presidential nominee has publicly disclosed their tax returns before a general election since 1976.

There is also precedent for releasing tax returns even when they are under audit. Thorndike pointed to former President Richard Nixon, who released his returns under audit in 1973.

"I think 40 years of tradition carries real moral and ethical weight," Thorndike said. "It’s quite striking that a major candidate would decide not to release their tax information — especially someone with an admittedly complex tax situation."

Former Republican Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, who resisted releasing his returns until September 2012 despite being the GOP nominee, took to Facebook to slam Trump for his resistance to full disclosure.

"It is disqualifying for a modern-day presidential nominee to refuse to release tax returns to the voters, especially one who has not been subject to public scrutiny in either military or public service," Romney wrote in the May 11 Facebook post.

The former Republican nominee pointed out that Trump could at least release his tax returns from before 2009 as a start and accused the business mogul of having something to hide.

"There is only one logical explanation for Mr. Trump’s refusal to release his returns: there is a bombshell in them," he wrote.

Trump later took to social media to clarify his comments to the AP.

“In interview I told @AP that my taxes are under routine audit and I would release my tax returns when audit is complete, not after election!” the business mogul tweeted, CNN notes.

AP reporter Julie Pace, who had interviewed Trump, was not satisfied.

“He still leaves himself this out by saying if this audit wraps up before the November election, then sure he’ll release his tax returns,” Pace told CNN. “We said, ‘Will you push your lawyers on this, will you tell them that voters deserve to know this information regardless of the audit?’

“He said, ’No.’ He said, ‘One, the voters don’t actually care about this, and two, there is no new information that would come out of the tax returns.'"

During a New Jersey rally on May 11, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton blasted Trump for refusing to release his taxes, New Jersey Local News reports.

“My husband and I have released 33 years of tax returns,” Clinton told her crowd of supporters. “We’ve got eight years on our website now. So you’ve got to ask yourself, why doesn’t he want to release them? Yeah, we’re going to find out.”

Sources: AP via Fox NewsCNN, Mitt Romney/Facebook, New Jersey Local News, The New York Times / Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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