House passes bill to require presidents to disclose their tax returns
The House on Friday passed legislation that would require presidents to disclose their tax returns, as Democrats have made obtaining President Trump’s tax returns one of their top priorities.
The tax return disclosure requirement was included in House Democrats’ wide-ranging election reform bill, known as H.R. 1, which passed on a party-line vote of 234-193. H.R. 1 is not expected to receive a vote in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Under the legislation, presidents, vice presidents and major-party nominees for those positions would be required to disclose 10 years of tax returns to the Federal Election Commission (FEC). That agency would then make the returns publicly available.
If a candidate or office-holder fails to disclose their returns, the FEC chairman would send a request to the Treasury secretary to obtain copies of the documents.
An amendment was added to the bill this week so that under the legislation, office-holders and candidates would be required to disclose both their personal and business tax returns.
The tax return provisions are based on legislation offered by Reps. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.).
Pascrell said Friday that he and Eshoo “believe that we need to write it into the record that it is demanded of everybody who runs for the presidency.”
Democrats included the tax return provisions in H.R. 1 to highlight the fact that Trump is the first president in decades to refuse to voluntarily release his tax documents. Trump has said he won't release his returns while under audit, but the IRS has said that audits don't prevent people from disclosing their own tax information.
The vote also comes as House Democrats appear to be moving toward requesting Trump’s tax returns from Treasury. Democrats want to review Trump’s returns to learn about any potential conflicts of interest, especially any entanglements with foreign governments.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) has the authority under statute to request tax returns from the Treasury Department. The Ways and Means Committee could then review the returns privately and vote to send a report to the House that could make some or all of the information in the returns public.
Neal has not given a timeline for when he'll request Trump’s tax returns, but others have predicted that it will be soon.
Pascrell earlier this week predicted that Neal would make the request within the next couple of weeks. When asked Friday if Neal has given him a timetable, Pascrell said Neal hasn’t made a final decision.