Lawmakers in several deep-blue states want to require presidential candidates to release their tax returns in order to appear on the ballot in those states, a sharp rebuke of President-elect Donald Trump’s ongoing refusal to make his tax records public. A pair of Maryland Democrats on Tuesday announced they would introduce a bill mandating the release of five years of tax returns, mirroring similar proposals in New York, Massachusetts, California and Maine. If approved, the proposals could keep Trump from appearing on some ballots in 2020 if he continues breaking with the decades-long tradition of financial transparency and decides to seek a second term. U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) in May introduced a federal bill requiring major-party candidates to release their returns, but that legislation didn’t advance in the Republican-controlled Congress.
The state lawmakers say they want to enshrine into law what’s been a long-standing norm among presidential contenders: the public release of tax returns detailing sources of income, business interests and charitable giving.
Trump faced strong criticism from his opponents throughout the 2016 campaign for saying he would not release his tax returns while the Internal Revenue Service is auditing them. The IRS does not bar public disclosures of tax returns under audit — Richard M. Nixon released his as president, despite being under audit. Portions of Trump’s 1995 tax return, which were leaked to the New York Times, suggest that the president-elect may have avoided paying federal income taxes for as long as 18 years.