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senate Bill S. 2979

Do Presidential Candidates Need to be Required to Release Their Tax Returns?

Argument in favor

Presidential candidates deserve to be heavily scrutinized and given that many voluntarily release their tax returns, it makes sense that federal should require them to make their returns public.

Jose's Opinion
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08/17/2016
Transparency is a must when running for the presidency.
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Matthew's Opinion
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08/17/2016
If they have nothing to hide they should prove it
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Katie's Opinion
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08/16/2016
Traditionally, presidential candidates have done this of their own accord in favor of transparency. It is not too much to ask of someone who is running for the highest office in the nation.
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Argument opposed

If a presidential candidate wants to release their tax returns voluntarily they can, but the federal government shouldn’t make it a requirement and threaten to release the information without consent.

pgshpak's Opinion
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08/17/2016
The Federal Government doesn't have the right to add requirements to presidential candidacy. That's a slippery slope that I don't want to go down.
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Andrew's Opinion
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08/17/2016
Most of y'all can't do your own taxes, never mind interpreting someone else's. Besides, what do we actually learn from these?
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operaman's Opinion
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08/16/2016
Is releasing one's tax return part of the application process in the Constitution or individual states? Didn't think so. Maybe Trump should be requesting HillaryClinton's Charity Information related to donors and expenditures. Good luck on broaching that stone wall.
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What is Senate Bill S. 2979?

This bill would require major party candidates for president to release their federal income tax returns for the three most recent tax years to the public. If a candidate doesn’t willingly disclose the required tax returns, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) would be able to retrieve the tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and publish them after redacting certain information.

Under current law, there is no requirement for presidential candidates to release their tax returns to the public, but most candidates in recent decades have voluntarily released their returns. Each president since Gerald Ford (who released summary data) has made their returns available to the public according to the Tax History Project.

If enacted, this legislation’s requirement would only apply to candidates from “major parties”  — which are defined as political parties that had their presidential candidate receive at least 25 percent of the popular vote in the previous election.

Impact

Presidential candidates from major parties; their families and businesses; the FEC; and the IRS.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 2979

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced this bill to prevent presidential candidates from refusing to release their tax returns:

“Since the days of Watergate, the American people have had an expectation that nominees to be the leader of the free world not hide their finances and personal tax returns. Tax returns deliver honest answers to key questions from the American public. 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.”

This legislation has the support of five Democratic cosponsors in the Senate.


Of Note: The issue of presidential candidates releasing their tax returns has come up in the last two presidential elections. In 2012, Republican candidate Mitt Romney — whose father George began the tradition of voluntary tax return releases when he ran for president in 1968 — resisted calls to release his returns before eventually relenting.

Current Republican candidate Donald Trump has downplayed the significance of his not having released his tax returns yet, citing an ongoing audit. He told the Associated Press in May 2016 the following:

“There’s nothing to learn from them. Now, I hope [the audit] gets finished soon. And if it gets finished soon, I’ll put it out immediately because there’s nothing there”

His Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, has made all of her tax returns for tax years dating back to 2000 available, which can be viewed at the Tax History Project.

While presidential candidates aren’t required to submit their tax returns under current law, nominees for federal positions that are subject to the Senate’s confirmation process have to give their tax returns to the FEC.



Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Public domain / Pixabay)

AKA

Presidential Tax Transparency Act

Official Title

A bill to amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to require candidates of major parties for the office of President to disclose recent tax return information.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Rules and Administration
    IntroducedMay 25th, 2016
    Transparency is a must when running for the presidency.
    Like (36)
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    The Federal Government doesn't have the right to add requirements to presidential candidacy. That's a slippery slope that I don't want to go down.
    Like (50)
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    Most of y'all can't do your own taxes, never mind interpreting someone else's. Besides, what do we actually learn from these?
    Like (26)
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    Is releasing one's tax return part of the application process in the Constitution or individual states? Didn't think so. Maybe Trump should be requesting HillaryClinton's Charity Information related to donors and expenditures. Good luck on broaching that stone wall.
    Like (20)
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    If they have nothing to hide they should prove it
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    I don't believe it should be required, however, it would help your campaign to release the information.
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    There is no real reason for tax returns to be returned. If a candidate does, then you can determine what you will about the person. Even though I don't support either candidate, I have to say that this is rather partisan.
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    Almost every modern presidential candidate has released their tax returns when running for office. Tax returns are a private manner, thus it should not be REQUIRED, yet I applaud those politicians that do come forth with their tax returns, as it can speak immensely about their character-whether positive or negative.
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    Tax returns are private, no need for anyone to see them
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    Such a disclosure would have no bearing on the objective fitness of a candidate for presidential office unless that candidate's tax filings (or lack of them) somehow made them legally ineligible to hold office. We already have the IRS to determine the legality of particular tax filings. The implications of those filings are important, but a candidate's choice to refuse a tax disclosure also has implications—let's not use the law to eliminate that possibility.
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    Strong candidates for president are overwhelmingly upper-class; if they use loopholes and cheats to get out of paying their share, that says a lot about their priorities, and we have a right to that information.
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    Traditionally, presidential candidates have done this of their own accord in favor of transparency. It is not too much to ask of someone who is running for the highest office in the nation.
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    When undergoing a hiring process, an employer must discover all that he or she needs to know as to whether the prospective employee is qualified and trustworthy. Similarly, the American people need to know whom it is they are voting for; tax information would reveal whether the candidate would have a conflict of interest, whether they can be trusted handling money appropriately, and whom or what they work closely with financially (which would likely reflect their fiscal policy).
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    Legally, tax returns are private.
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    Good answer by Countable member WisKidVA: "Typical Progressive mindset that believes in legislating desired behavior into existence. Tax disclosure by candidates has always been voluntary. When someones actions say "I'm not playing by those traditions and rules", just listen...and vote. And can anyone point to a specific 'learned character' trait gleaned from the years of tax returns from candidates? Sure would be nice if so many had taken this degree of interest when the IRS was using individual taxpayer data during Lois Learners' tenure..."
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    I believe if you are running for public office, you should be COMPLETELY transparent.
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    There is so much corruption built into the current version of the party system. There should be requirements of presidential candidates who survive the gauntlet of the racist, xenophobic old boy network to be transparent about their finances, their health, etc. Tax returns are one major way in which the citizenry get to see what a candidate does in real time with money. It matters! If a candidate chooses not to release them, it should be disqualifying! We do not need a president with personal shameful secrets & should prevent any situation in which that person might be elected.
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    Especially if they want to be CEO of United States of America.
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    You know like all other Americans getting jobs a credit report should suffice
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    Transparency is critical to democracy
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