Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Washington Post op-ed: There’s a Quick and Easy Way to See Trump’s Tax Returns, by Daniel Hemel (Chicago):
State lawmakers across the country are pursuing creative methods to force President Trump to release his federal income tax returns before he can run for reelection in 2020. Unfortunately for citizens interested in greater presidential transparency, those efforts are likely to fail.
There is, however, a much easier way for state lawmakers to force the disclosure of Trump’s tax information: publishing the state tax returns already in their possession, which would reveal much of the same information appearing in his federal documents. ...
So far, state lawmakers have focused their attention on bills that would require candidates to release their federal income tax returns before appearing on those states’ presidential ballots. The Democratic-controlled New Jersey legislature approved such a bill last month. State lawmakers in California, New York and 20 other states have introduced similar legislation. The ballot-access approach faces three formidable obstacles. ...
[P]ublishing Trump’s state tax returns is a much more viable option — and would make his returns available to the public now, rather than three years from now.
Trump’s New York state resident income tax returns show his salary, dividends, capital gains, rental real estate income and other income from all sources — including sources outside New York. If Trump fills out a “Resident Itemized Deduction Schedule” — as most high-income individuals in New York do — he also reports his gifts to charity. And if he is using phantom losses from previous years to offset tax on his current-year income, then the New York state return shows that too.
New York’s Department of Taxation and Finance keeps copies of Trump’s state returns from as far back as 1990. Current New York law prohibits state tax officials from disclosing an individual’s returns, but the New York legislature could amend that law to require the state tax authority to post the president’s returns from the past quarter-century on its website. ...
State lawmakers have the power to provide voters with a more comprehensive understanding of the president’s taxpaying past. They should use it.