Friday, May 20, 2016
John O. McGinnis (Northwestern), The Case Against Disclosing Candidates’ Tax Returns:
I have previously expressed very substantial reservations about Donald Trump’s candidacy, but decline to join in the criticism about his refusal to release his tax returns. While a norm has developed suggesting that citizens have a right to see tax returns of presidential candidates and indeed candidates for some other offices, it is a bad norm. It invades privacy, discourages some people from entering politics, distracts from policy issues, and harms the prospects of those with complex financial affairs. ...
[T]here are issues peculiar to political campaign that also militate against a norm for disclosure. First, some tax returns can reveal information about businesses that will help competitors or harm family relations. ... Second, the release will hurt people with complex financial affairs, who take advantage of various tax preferences.
Perhaps Trump should release his taxes as matter of political strategy. I have no insight there. But if he refuses and helps kills this political norm, at least something good will have come out of his candidacy.