Presidential Tax Transparency and Accountability Act
Senators McGuire and Weiner
Transparency is a nonpartisan issue. Presidential candidate’s income tax returns provide voters with essential information regarding the candidate’s potential conflicts of interest, domestic and international business dealings, financial status, and charitable donations.
President Donald Trump’s refusal to release his income tax returns departs from over four decades of established political tradition, respected by both Republicans and Democrats alike, denying voters the opportunity to fully evaluate his fitness for the office of President of the United States.
SB 149 ensures that future presidential candidates be barred from appearing on the California ballot unless they release their tax returns to the voters.
Throughout his campaign, President Donald Trump refused to release his tax returns, even as his Republican, Democratic and third-party opponents did so.
The American public deserves to know that the individual they are selecting to be president will have their best interests at heart, free of conflict of interests no matter if it is business related or with a foreign government.
American voters agree that presidential candidates should release their tax returns. In two separate polls – over the last eight months – Americans believe that their President should release their tax returns. In an August Quinnipiac University poll, 74% of all likely American voters responded and said they wanted then Candidate-Trump to release his tax returns. In that same poll, 62% of Republicans said they wanted President Trump to release his tax returns. In a January 2017 ABC News-Washington Post Poll, 74% believe President Trump should release his tax returns.
There are pressing questions for voters to have answers for before an election, because unlike members of Congress and federal appointees, presidents are largely exempt from conflict-of-interest laws.
Voters not only deserve full disclosure of their future leader’s tax returns, they should be entitled to them. This legislation will help make transparency great again.
Similar legislation is currently being introduced in several other states including Colorado, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Mexico, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia.
In the absence of a federal law mandating that presidential candidate’s turn over their income tax returns, this legislation would be specific to California and require:
A candidate for president, in order to have his or her name placed upon a general election ballot, to file his or her income tax returns for the 5 most recent taxable years with the Secretary of State at least 70 days before that election.
The Secretary of State, after adopting regulations, to redact the income tax returns of presidential candidates as necessary to protect privacy.
The returns to be available to the public on the Secretary of State’s website.
This legislation does not exclude or constrain candidate participation, rather it is a procedural ballot access requirement – similar to determining filing fees and the number of signatures required- in which states are exercising their broad powers to make ballots for any office, including a federal office, comprehensive and informative to voters.
Office of Senator Mike McGuire
Office of Senator Scott Wiener