Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is taking an unprecedented step for any recent American presidential candidate, stating that he doesn’t plan to release his tax returns to the public before the general election in November. Media have previously criticized candidates who have not released tax returns, but will they continue to give Trump a pass on this unusual move?
A May 11 report from the Associated Press noted that Trump “doesn’t expect to release his tax returns before November.” Trump previously stated that he has “very big tax returns” that are “extremely complex” and that he wouldn’t release his returns until an ongoing tax audit is completed, a claim that the IRS disputed and Forbes has called out as not “a real excuse.” There is a long precedent for presidential candidates to release their tax returns, including Richard Nixon who released his returns while being audited.
Media -- and Donald Trump himself -- have previously criticized Mitt Romney, who also said he would not release his tax returns. In 2012 Fox contributor Laura Ingraham hounded Romney on the issue of tax returns, saying Romney’s refusal to release them “does not make Romney look good.” Trump’s failure to release his tax returns also contrasts with his own advice to Romney in 2012, when during an interview with Fox’s Greta Van Susteren Trump claimed Romney “was hurt really very badly by this whole thing with the income tax returns,” adding that Romney “should have given them April 1” because “April 1st historically is the time that everybody gives them.”