Top Senate Democrat: You Wanna Be President? Show Us Your Tax Forms

Ron Wyden wants to force presidential nominees to release their tax returns

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden is introducing legislation to require presidential nominees to release three years worth of tax information to the Federal Election Commission. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In a clear shot at Donald Trump, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee wants to force presidential nominees to release their tax returns.  

And if candidates like Trump decline to do so? He wants the Internal Revenue Service and federal election officials to do it for them.  

"Tax returns deliver honest answers to key questions from the American public," Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden said in announcing the legislation. "Do you even pay taxes? Do you give to charity? Are you abusing tax loopholes at the expense of middle class families? Are you keeping your money offshore? People have a right to know."  

The proposal comes as Trump faces rising pressure to release his tax returns, a practice candidates have voluntarily honored for decades. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, has so far declined, for various reasons  ranging from personal privacy to an ongoing audit.  

[ Senate Democrats Cheer Donald Trump for Bashing Tax Loopholes ]  

A summary from the Finance Committee's minority office explains that Wyden wants to make it a law for party presidential nominees to turn over such information.  

"For nearly 40 years, presidential candidates from major political parties have voluntarily released tax returns during the campaign. In addition, the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance requires all nominees for Senate confirmation to submit tax return information," the summary said.  

Specifically, the bill would amend federal election law to require filing three years worth of tax return information with the Federal Election Commission within 15 days of formally securing the nomination.


Under Wyden's plan, if a candidate does not voluntarily turn over tax returns within a month, the FEC would be directed to obtain the information directly from the Internal Revenue Service through a request to the secretary of the Treasury.  

"Since the days of Watergate, the American people have had an expectation that nominees to be the leader of the free world not hide their finances and personal tax returns," Wyden said in a release.  

Contact Lesniewski at NielsLesniewski@cqrollcall.com and follow him on Twitter @nielslesniewski. Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android device.