California State Senate Passes Bill Requiring Presidential Candidates Release Tax Returns

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Credits: Wikipedia

The California state Senate approved a proposed bill that changes the process for printing the names of presidential candidates in the primary ballot.

On Thursday, the Presidential Transparency and Accountability Act also known as SB 27 easily passed the state Senate with 27-10 votes. Democrats currently holds two-thirds supermajority control of the state’s upper chamber. All of the 10 Republican lawmakers voted against the bill.

SB 27 requires all presidential candidates to releases five years’ worth of income tax returns in order for their names to appear on the state’s primary ballot. Their tax returns will be made available to the public on the California Secretary of State’s website.

A response to Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns

California state Senators Mike McGuire and Scott Wiener introduced the bill in response to President Donald Trump’s refusal to release his income tax returns. Trump broke a bipartisan tradition of presidents who voluntarily disclosed their income tax returns over the past 40 years.

Trump repeatedly stated that he will not release his income tax returns because he is under audit by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). However the IRS audit does not prevent him from disclosing his tax returns.

According to McGuire, “We believe that President Trump, if he truly doesn’t have anything to hide, should step up and release his tax returns,” as quoted by the Associated Press (AP).

In a previous statement, Wiener said, “The President’s refusal to share his tax returns with the American people goes against longstanding transparency norms and undermines the trust between government and those it serves. We deserve to know that the President is in fact acting for the good of the people and not in his own monetary self-interest.”

SB 27 still needs approval from lawmakers in State Assembly, which is also dominated by Democrats. It is highly likely that the bill will pass the lower chamber and will move to Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk for final approval.

In 2017, the California legislature passed a similar bill, but then Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed it. At the time, Brown did no release his tax returns.

Gov. Newsom will evaluate the bill based on merits

A spokesperson for Newsom told AP that the Governor will evaluate the SB 27 on its own merits. If Newsom signs the bill into law and Trump does not release his tax returns, his names may not appear on California’s primary ballot.

California is among the first states to hold its presidential primary in 2020.

State Sen. Brian Jones, a Republican, commented, “I get that playing the resistance card may be good politics for the majority party, but I would submit that it’s bad policy for Californians.”

State legislatures in New Jersey and Washington are proposing similar bills. In New York, a lawmaker proposed a bill to allow a requesting Congressional committee to obtain Trump’s state tax returns.