Financial Disclosure for Election Candidates

There’s so much to-do about Trump’s tax returns. Some may wonder why the returns are important. Others simply follow the current rhetoric in whatever camp they follow.

The things I attach to the importance of tax returns disclosure are:

  • it’s been the norm and part of the disclosures that Presidential candidates are supposed to make
  • the records show how well the candidate has managed their own finances and therefore become an indicia of how well the funds of the nation will be managed
  • good money management is part of good leadership
  • good money management leads to a healthy, growing economy
  • good money management involves proper allocation of assets and determines to a good extent whether negotiation is a better route compared with use of troops and weaponry

to name a few.

How well the budgets can be managed is what's at stake

How well can the budgets can be managed is what’s at stake

So is the outcry for real Trump tax returns more of the political reality show or is it a legitimate cry for disclosure of good leadership and management abilities?

OpenSecrets.org lists a number of requirements for disclosure by people seeking to hold various federal and government offices. As far as its being a longstanding tradition (if not a requirement), there was analysis of Romney’s disclosing only two years of his returns accompanied by a discussion of whether or not it is a requirement. Following a tradition is admirable but that’s not an indicator of leadership; it’s more evidence of being good at being a lemming.

Consideration of what financial disclosure provides and what about it is meaningless is discussed in an article from Bloomberg. According to Gregory Walden, an attorney who helped Mitt Romney file his disclosure statements, “It’s not intended to be a net worth statement,” he said. “It’s intended to guard against conflicts and potential conflicts.”

In May 2015, the Senate considered making tax return disclosure mandatory under what will be called the Presidential Tax Transparency Act. That act “would require a presidential candidate to release the most recent three years of tax returns to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) within 15 days of becoming the nominee at the party convention. If the candidate refuses to comply, the Treasury Secretary would provide the tax returns directly to the FEC for public release.” Considering where we are today, the Act has yet to be born. So the accusations continue, as well as the political reality show.

The analysis of the proposed Act is very much worth a read for the education about tax disclosure that it provides. Perhaps it will be enacted after November.

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One thought on “Financial Disclosure for Election Candidates

  1. An October 2 message from MoveOn.org noted:
    “An investigative team at the New York Times is out with a blockbuster story today: Trump’s massive business losses—totaling nearly $1 billion in 1995 alone—could have allowed him to pay $0 in federal income taxes for nearly two decades.1

    “This story intensifies the speculation of why Trump refuses to release his tax returns—as every presidential candidate has since the 1970s.”

    Like

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