WASHINGTON – Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-OR, has introduced a bill requiring sitting presidents and presidential nominees to release their tax returns to the public. Wyden first introduced this legislation in May 2016 after then-presidential candidate Donald Trump broke his promise to release his tax returns. Revelations about Trump’s own financial ties and his associates’ ties to Russia have come to light since he took office, and last year it was reported that Trump and his family spent decades committing tax fraud.
Section 6103 of the U.S. tax code grants the Chairman of the Finance Committee and the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee authority to obtain the president’s tax returns from the Treasury Department. According to reports, House Democrats plan to use this authority to demand Trump’s tax returns, but Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has not said whether he would comply.
“Trump blew off a 40-year, bipartisan, pro-transparency tradition by refusing to release his tax returns – a tradition that dates all the way back to Watergate,” said Wyden. “It’s not just a matter of the president destroying a good-government campaign tradition. Week after week more questions are raised about Trump’s financial connections that could influence his foreign and tax policy decision making. This legislation is the one-two punch needed to keep the Trump administration from stonewalling congressional oversight efforts, and ensure public transparency if Trump’s tax returns get tied up in court.”
The Presidential Tax Transparency Act requires sitting presidents to release their most recent 3 years of tax returns to the Office of Government Ethics (OGE). It also requires that, within 15 days of becoming the nominee at the party convention, presidential nominees must release their most recent 3 years of tax returns to the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Should the sitting president or future candidates refuse to comply, the Treasury Secretary will be required to provide the tax returns directly to the OGE or FEC respectively for public release.
Original cosponsors of the Presidential Tax Transparency Act include: Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Cory Booker, D-N.J., Ben Cardin, D-Md., Tom Carper, D-Del., Chris Coons, D-Del., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Tim Kaine, D-Va., Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Edward Markey, D-Mass., Bob Menendez, D-N.J., Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Tom Udall, D-N.M., Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.