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Eshoo, Pascrell Introduce Trump Tax Returns Legislation

Bill would require Presidents and presidential candidates to release their financial returns

Washington, January 9, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Representatives Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18) and Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-09) introduced H.R. 273, the Presidential Tax Transparency Act, legislation requiring sitting Presidents and Vice Presidents, and candidates for the presidency and vice-presidency of major parties, to publicly disclose their 10 most recent federal income tax returns.

“While we continue to work to expose Donald Trump's tax returns to vital congressional sunlight, this legislation will codify that future candidates cannot repeat Trump’s cover-up,” said Rep. Pascrell. “Being able to scrutinize the tax returns of a man or woman seeking to occupy the most powerful position on earth is a low bar, and one that candidates long abided by until 2016. Americans have a right to know if their President is a crook. Imposing this requirement will ensure that transparency and ethical behavior are minimum requirements for any presidential candidate.”

“The American people expect those who seek or hold the highest office in the land to be open and transparent about their tax returns,” Rep. Eshoo said. “Tax returns contain vital information for voters and the public, including whether an individual has paid any taxes; whether they made charitable donations; and whether they took advantage of tax loopholes or offshore tax shelters. Since the Watergate era, and up to the 2016 Presidential election, presidents and candidates have publicly disclosed their tax returns voluntarily but this bipartisan practice has never been required by law. The Presidential Tax Transparency Act, which I first introduced during the 2016 presidential race, makes this important precedent the law of the land.” 

According to the Tax History Project, every president since 1976 has released their tax returns while in office, but this practice is not required by current law. The Presidential Tax Transparency Act requires sitting Presidents and Vice Presidents, and candidates for the presidency and vice-presidency of major parties, to submit their 10 most recent federal income tax returns to the Federal Election Commission and make them available to the public. “Major parties” are defined in the tax code as parties whose candidate received more than 25 percent of the popular vote in the previous presidential election. If a President or candidate fails to disclose their tax returns, the IRS is required to provide redacted copies to the FEC for public disclosure.

Rep. Pascrell has been Congress’s most vocal proponent of releasing President Trump’s tax returns. Since February 2017, Pascrell has led the call for the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means to invoke Section 6103 of the tax code to obtain Trump’s tax returns. Pascrell believes that exposing the tax returns to sunlight is critical to revealing any potential conflicts of interest, including those with Russian entities. In 2017 and 2018, House Republicans voted 18 times to block Democratic resolutions seeking the tax returns.

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