A proposed Massachusetts ballot question that would require presidential candidates to release their tax returns from the prior six years to secure a spot on the state primary ballot cleared a key hurdle Wednesday. Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey certified the question, saying it passes constitutional muster. That clears the question to go before voters next year, provided that supporters can collect the tens of thousands of signatures needed to get on the ballot. The proposal is a reaction to Republican President Donald Trump’s refusal to publicly release his tax returns during the 2016 election. It would impose the same requirements for candidates for vice president.
There is a similar bill before Massachusetts lawmakers that would force candidates for president to turn over a certified copy of their federal income tax returns for the three most recent years to get on the primary ballot.
Both the ballot question and the proposed legislation would also require the state secretary to release the returns publicly. Candidates who refuse to comply with the requirement would be barred from the primary ballot.
Not everyone is convinced efforts to require the disclosure of tax returns are constitutional. Critics note that the U.S. Constitution already sets out qualifications to become president. They say it’s not up to states to add new ones.