No law says the president of the United States has to share their tax returns with the American people. But Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline is the lead sponsor of a new bill that would make it a law.
“Americans have a right to know whether their elected officials are acting in the public interest, especially when that person holds the Office of President of the United States,” Cicilline, the primary sponsor of the bill, said in a press release. “This commonsense legislation will be a critical tool in ensuring that the President of the United States always operates under the strictest ethical scrutiny and standards.”
The Presidential Tax Disclosure Act (text here) is also co-signed by representatives: Don Beyer (VA), Brendan Boyle (PA), Julia Brownley (CA), Peter DeFazio (OR), Raul Grijalva (AZ), Marcy Kaptur (OH), Ted Lieu (CA), Zoe Lofgren (CA), Gregory Meeks (NY), Gwen Moore (WI), Jerrold Nadler (NY), Tim Ryan (OH), Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA) and Nydia Velazquez (NY).
It’s obviously directed at President-elect Donald Trump, the first presidential candidate since Gerald Ford to not release his tax returns. Democrats and some Republicans think Americans deserve to understand their president’s financial affairs and Trump’s myriad business interests are seen as a fertile soil for conflicts of interests.
Cicilline’s press release called attention to a New York Times story that uncovered a portion of the Trump’s 1995 tax returns that indicate he may not have paid federal income taxes for 18 straight years.
Congress doesn’t have the market cornered on legislation intended to make Trump’s tax returns public. New York state Senator Brad Hoylman, a Democrat from the New York City district where Trump lives, introduced a bill that would require presidents to disclose their tax returns. It’s called the Tax Returns Uniformly Made Public, or TRUMP, Act.
If Cicilline’s bill is successful, which seems unlikely in the GOP-led House, he would be the first Rhode Islander since Jack White to force a president to make their tax returns public.