When President Donald Trump refused to release his taxes during his presidential campaign in 2016, the media went into a frenzy.Why was he refusing to release his taxes? What is it that he was trying to hide? Since the presidency of Richard Nixon, all presidents and major party presidential candidates, with the exception of President Gerald Ford, have released their tax returns.Although President Ford did not release his taxes, he did make public summary data regarding his taxes. There is currently no law that requires that a presidential candidate has to release any tax returns. That is, unless Maryland’s Presidential Tax Transparency Act becomes law.
The Maryland Senate has recently passed a bill that would require future presidential candidates to release their tax returns.If the bill is passes, it would mandate disclosure of tax returns for presidential and vice presidential candidates prior to appearing on the Maryland ballot. The candidates must provide the five most current tax returns. The law would also require that candidates sign a written consent form for the disclosure of those federal income tax returns.
Proponents of such laws argue that requiring presidential candidates to release their tax returns show that a candidate is forth coming and honest.Also, tax returns provide a better insight to the candidate’s finances and potential conflicts of interest a candidate could face. Opposition to these laws argue that the release of tax returns are trivial and useless. The Ethics and Government Act of 1978 provides that presidential candidates have to disclose their assets, sources of income and debts. Many other states have suggested implementing similar President Tax Transparency laws but none have passed. Maryland would be the first state to have such a law if passed.
Chris Cillizza, Donald Trump is never going to release his taxes, CNN, (Dec. 19, 2017, 9:12 PM), https://www.cnn.com/2017/12/19/politics/donald-trump-release-taxes/index.html; Chris Kahn, Trump calls tax avoidance ‘smart’, most Americans call it ‘unpatriotic’: poll, Reuters, (Oct. 4, 2016, 6:03 PM), https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-poll/trump-calls-tax-avoidance-smart-most-americans-call-it-unpatriotic-poll-idUSKCN1242FH; Domenico Montanaro, Simple Beats Nuance, Which Is Part Of Why Trump Isn’t Releasing Those Tax Returns, NPR, (Apr. 17, 2017, 3:56 PM), https://www.npr.org/2017/04/18/524561638/simple-beats-nuance-which-is-part-of-why-trumps-not-releasing-those-tax-returns; Jill Disis, Presidential tax returns: Will it end with Trump?, CNN, (Jan, 26, 2017) http://money.cnn.com/2017/01/23/news/economy/donald-trump-tax-returns/index.html
Amber Phillips, Want your presidential candidates to release their tax returns? There’s a bill for that., Wash. Post (Oct. 3, 2016), https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/10/03/want-your-presidential-candidates-to-release-their-taxes-theres-a-bill-for-that/?utm_term=.bb44b0d123a2
 Presidential Candidate Tax Transparency Act, H.B. 662, 438thGen Assemb., Reg. Sess. (2018)
Brandon Carter, California Legislature passes bill requiring presidential candidates to release tax returns, The Hill, (Sept. 14, 2017, 8:40 PM), http://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/350789-california-legislature-passes-bill-requiring-presidential-candidates-to
Editorial Board Memo: All Presidential Candidates Should Release Their Tax Returns Support a U.S. Senate Vote On The Presidential Tax Transparency Act, (Sept. 8, 2016), https://americansfortaxfairness.org/all-presidential-candidates-should-release-their-tax-returns-support-a-u-s-senate-vote-on-the-presidential-tax-transparency-act/
Daniel l. Weiner and Lawrence Norden, Presidential Transparency: Beyond Tax Returns, Brennan Center for Justice, https://www.brennancenter.org/sites/default/files/publications/Presidential%20Transparency%20Beyond%20Tax%20Returns.pdf