Politics

In Tax Return Secrecy, Congress Unites

What some lawmakers said when we asked for copies of their returns

Only 37 of 532 members of Congress responded when Roll Call asked for copies of their tax returns. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

No matter what their political affiliation, members of Congress have this in common: They don’t like releasing their tax returns. Only 37 of the 532 members of the House and Senate responded when Roll Call asked for copies of their tax returns over several weeks, starting in April. Most of them declined to release their tax returns.

Here are some of their responses.

Rep. Danny K. Davis, D-Ill.

Davis is a member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, the House panel that shepherds proposed changes to the tax code through Congress. He told Roll Call that President Donald Trump should release his returns because of an “established precedent,” that does not exist for members of Congress.

Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M.

Heinrich, who also declined to release his returns, is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee investigating alleged connections between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. He told Roll Call that he has called for Trump’s tax returns to be subpoenaed, “so that we can follow the money and determine who holds the debt behind the president’s complex international business empire.” He added that he would release his own returns under one condition, “if it meant President Trump would stop defying decades of precedent and disclose his tax returns.”

Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M.

Udall is one of nine co-sponsors of a Senate bill that would require all presidential candidates to release the most recent three years of their tax returns, or else the Treasury Department would release it for them.

He also drew a distinction between the disclosure of his own tax returns and Trump’s.

“The American people deserve to know whether President Trump has investments in foreign nations that might influence his foreign policy, and they deserve to know how his policies, including tax proposals, may impact his wealth and that of his company,” Udall said.

New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall wants presidential candidates to release three of their most recent tax returns. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall wants presidential candidates to release three of their most recent tax returns. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

And while Democrats have led the call for Trump to release his returns, Republicans who have said the same have also been reluctant to take the first step.

Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md.

Harris said in March that, “sure,” Trump should release his taxes. He added that it was up to voters to signal that it was a priority, and shrugged. Releasing tax returns was not a priority for Harris either.

“Congressman Harris is not going to participate in Roll Call’s list,” spokeswoman Jacque Clark said.

Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas

Thornberry’s office said he would not participate in “surveys,” which spokesman Jon Corley defined as the same request addressed to many different congressional offices. He also declined to answer direct questions about Thornberry’s returns.

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