Trump Should Follow Long, Bipartisan Precedent, Release Tax Returns

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  • Scott Swenson, Dale Eisman
Candidate Released Returns to State Gambling Boards While Under Audit

WASHINGTON, DC — Common Cause called on presumptive Republican nominee Donald J. Trump on Friday to follow the lead of the other two remaining candidates for president and release copies of his income tax returns. In a letter sent to Trump headquarters, the nonpartisan advocacy group noted that Republican and Democratic candidates alike have made such disclosures dating to the Eisenhower Administration and questions that arose then about Richard Nixon’s finances.

“First, consistent with historic practice, releasing your tax returns provides voters with a fuller picture of your background, experience, business interests and insight into potential conflicts of interest,” wrote Karen Hobert Flynn, Common Cause Senior Vice President for Strategy and Programs. Trump has claimed that current audits by the Internal Revenue Service prevent him from releasing the forms.

The Common Cause letter points out that Trump previously has released tax documents when his private business interests were at stake. “In fact, you have released tax returns in the midst of audits when you handed them over to gambling regulators in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Now that you are seeking the presidency, we hope you will hold yourself to the same standard as you did when protecting your casino interests.”

Hobert Flynn also quoted IRS Commissioner John Koskinen saying, “if you’re being audited, and you want to do something else, share that information with your returns, you can do that.”

With offices in 35 states, Common Cause has been advocating for openness and transparency in government and politics since its founding in 1970. 

Every American has a right to know how candidates for office conduct their affairs and to be assured they are honest in their dealings. Before giving any candidate authority to conduct the people’s business through our government, voters deserve access to this information. These ethical issues speak to core values voters expect from our leaders but can be easily overlooked in these more polarized and hyper-partisan times.

Common Cause played a leading role in passing the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 which ushered in an era of disclosure requirements for specific high level government officials, including the disclosure of financial holdings, employment, and business interests, among other provisions. The group’s state offices routinely advocate on behalf of Freedom of Information laws and campaign finance disclosure requirements at the state and local level.

View the letter sent to Trump headquarters.