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Bill Would Force Candidates To Release Tax Returns

In a move designed to force Donald Trump to release his tax returns -- or at least taunt senate Republicans into defending the presidential nominee -- a Senate Democrat has introduced new legislation making it mandatory for candidates to release their financial records.

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat, calls the bill the Presidential Tax Transparency Act. It would apply to any presidential candidate, although as The New York Times notes, both Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have released their tax returns publicly.

Wyden knows Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell and Sen. Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, are "likely to ignore the bill," according to The New York Times, but introducing the legislation has the added benefit of potentially scoring political points if McConnell, Hatch and other Republicans are drawn into a debate to defend Trump.

“Tax returns deliver honest answers to key questions from the American public,” Wyden wrote in a statement. “Do you even pay taxes? Do you give to charity? Are you abusing tax loopholes at the expense of middle-class families? Are you keeping your money offshore? People have a right to know.”

If Trump does not release his tax returns ahead of November's election, he'll be the first major candidate for the presidency to keep them from the public.

In earlier interviews, Trump has said he's waiting for the IRS to finish an audit before he can release his returns. In another, he told an interviewer his tax returns were "none of your business." Trump has also said that, as a businessman, he "fights" to pay as little in taxes as possible.

The latest statement from the Trump campaign came on May 24, when Corey Lewandowski, the former reality TV star's campaign manager, reiterated his boss's earlier comments.

“There’s nothing to see from 2002, 2003, and 2004,” Lewandowski told CBS, reports The Huffington Post. “What you guys are interested right now, is what his tax rate is. His tax rate is as low as possible, as many deductions as possible, to build his business so that he could provide jobs in his corporation.”

Sources: The New York Times, The Huffington Post / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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