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.
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.
- About the Reporting Requirements OpenSecrets.org
- Presidential candidates have long history of releasing tax returns, Marlena Baldacci, CNN (July 16, 2012)
- Most GOP nominees since 1970s have released their tax returns, Fox’s Chris Wallace says, Lauren Carroll, PolitiFact (May 18th, 2016)
- What a Presidential Candidate’s Financial Disclosures Do, and Do Not, Reveal, Richard Rubin, Bloomberg (May 15, 2015)
- Senate Bill Would Require Presidential Candidates, Including Trump, To Release Tax Returns, Kelly Phillips Erb, Forbes.com (May 25, 2016)
- About the Reporting Requirements, OpenSecrets.org
- Why does this matter?, OpenSecrets.org
- Missing Reports, 2014, OpenSerets.org
- Donald Trump’s fractional fundraising, Jack Noland, OpenSecrets.org (September 29, 2016)
- GAAP Financial Statement Disclosures Manual, 2016-2017
- Combined Federal/State Disclosure and Election Directory 2016