Editorial boards are criticizing presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns, noting that “it has been common practice since the 1970s for the presidential nominees of both parties to release their tax returns,” explaining that Trump “should be willing to demonstrate that he has lived up to his tax obligations,” and arguing that the decision shows “a paternalistic and insulting attitude toward the public.”
Trump Claims IRS Audit Prevents Him From Releasing Tax Returns
Trump Says He Will Not Release Tax Returns Until After The Audit Is Complete. Donald Trump told the Associated Press that he wouldn’t release his tax returns before the general election unless an ongoing audit was completed. Trump added that he does not feel obligated to release them, because “there's nothing to learn from them.” From the May 11 AP article:
Despite pressure, the billionaire said he doesn't believe he has an obligation to release his tax returns and won't release them before November unless an ongoing audit of his finances is completed before Election Day. He said he wouldn't overrule his lawyers and instruct them to release his returns if the audit hasn't concluded by then.
“There's nothing to learn from them,” Trump said. He also said he doesn't believe voters are interested.
“Now, I hope it gets finished soon. And if it gets finished soon, I put it out immediately because there's nothing there. But until you get finished, you won't,” he said.
Trump weighed in on the issue again Wednesday, saying on Twitter: “In interview I told @AP that my taxes are under routine audit and I would release my tax returns when audit is complete, not after election!” [Associated Press, 5/11/16]
Editorial Boards Call Trump’s “Obfuscation” Over Tax Returns “Paternalistic And Insulting”
NY Times: If “There’s Nothing To Learn From” Trump’s Tax Returns, “Why Doesn’t He Trust The Voters To Come To That Conclusion Themselves?” The New York Times’ editorial board argued that while “American politics has some silly and outdated traditions,” “the disclosure of income tax returns by contenders for the presidency isn’t one of them.” The board noted that for decades “candidates have been releasing their returns to assure voters that they have no conflicts of interests, that they are generous to those in need, and that they take their duties as citizens seriously by meeting their tax obligations to the government.” From the May 13 editorial:
American politics has some silly and outdated traditions, but the disclosure of income tax returns by contenders for the presidency isn’t one of them. Beginning in 1952, candidates have been releasing their returns to assure voters that they have no conflicts of interests, that they are generous to those in need, and that they take their duties as citizens seriously by meeting their tax obligations to the government.
Donald Trump, the de facto Republican presidential nominee, so far has refused to follow suit. On Friday, he disagreed that Americans have a right to see his returns. Asked what his tax rate is during an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” he snapped, “None of your business.”
Though Hillary Clinton continues to keep the contents of her Wall Street speeches under wraps, she has, to her credit, released years of tax returns. And Mr. Trump, in the past, has been a stalwart advocate of disclosure. On Friday the Democratic National Committee released a video of his televised promises, dating back years, to release his returns. The video includes an interview in which he notes that “everybody has done it for many, many years.”
Mr. Trump now says he won’t release his returns because he’s being audited. Such concern didn’t stop President Nixon from releasing several years of returns in 1973 — even though the Internal Revenue Service subsequently determined that the president owed nearly $500,000 in back taxes. (Mr. Nixon’s famous comment, “I’m not a crook,” didn’t refer to Watergate, but to rumors about tax avoidance, which turned out to be accurate.)
Mr. Trump also insists there’s nothing to learn from his taxes. If that’s the case, why doesn’t he trust the voters to come to that conclusion themselves? [The New York Times, 5/13/16]
Wash. Post: Trump’s Refusal To Release Returns “Paternalistic And Insulting.” The Washington Post’s editorial board criticized Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns, writing that his “response is that he will be the judge and jury, a paternalistic and insulting attitude toward the public.” The board explained that “there would be much to learn from Mr. Trump’s tax returns and, more broadly, his years as a businessman” and that if Trump “has nothing to hide, he should put the facts out.” From the May 12 editorial:
Besides his usual brazenness, something unsettling lurks behind Donald Trump’s latest statement that — unlike every other nominee in modern times — he will not make public his tax returns before the November election. “There’s nothing to learn from them,” he told the Associated Press. Earlier, he claimed he could not release his returns because he was being audited. Then he said on Twitter they would be released “when audit is complete, not after election!” To voters considering his fitness to be president, Mr. Trump’s response is that he will be the judge and jury, a paternalistic and insulting attitude toward the public.
In fact, there would be much to learn from Mr. Trump’s tax returns and, more broadly, his years as a businessman. We’re not picking this criterion out of thin air; Mr. Trump is the one who repeatedly trumpets his business experience as his qualification for the presidency. His boasting ought to be tested against hard information about how his companies performed, how they were managed and governed, how shareholders and bondholders were treated, how Mr. Trump was compensated, how he managed his tax burden and to what extent he has been a philanthropist.
Much of what is known about Mr. Trump’s business career suggests he has bullied and bulldozed his way to such success as he has had and, at times, defaulted on interest payments to bondholders and put his companies through bankruptcy. Did he create real value or just personal notoriety? If he has nothing to hide, he should put the facts out. [The Washington Post, 5/12/16]
USA Today: “Voters Deserve Better Than Trump’s Haughty Contempt.” USA Today’s editorial board noted “every major party nominee ... for the past four decades” has released his or her tax returns, and called Trump’s “audit dodge” “bogus.” The board argued that “Trump’s constantly changing positions about his returns ... raise suspicions that he’s concealing something” and added, “voters deserve better than Trump’s haughty contempt.” From the May 15 editorial:
What’s Donald Trump hiding by refusing to release his tax returns, the way every major party nominee has done for the past four decades?
That the presumed Republican nominee is not as wealthy as he claims? That he uses aggressive tax-avoidance schemes? That he doesn't give much cash to charity?
Whatever the reasons, Trump’s constantly changing positions about his returns — gonna release them, can't release them, want to release them, might release them — raise suspicions that he’s concealing something. On Friday, he went so far as to tell ABC's Good Morning America that his tax rates are “none of your business.”
Well, actually, they are because Americans have the right to know whether someone who wants to lead the nation pays what he owes, is free of financial conflicts of interest and gives generously to worthy causes.
No candidate is required by law to release tax returns, but all the major candidates do. Hillary Clinton has put 15 years of her returns online. Trump’s excuses for refusing are of the dog-ate-my-homework variety. Earlier this year, he said he couldn’t do it because he was being audited by the IRS. This is bogus; the IRS says a taxpayer can make returns public whether he's being audited or not. And, as Trump’s tax attorneys pointed out, the audits apply only to returns after 2008, so Trump could release all the earlier ones. He has not.
Maybe this is all an elaborate setup, and there’s nothing there. Maybe there really is a bombshell. Either way, voters deserve better than Trump’s haughty contempt. [USA Today, 5/15/16]
WSJ: Trump Guilty Of “Changing Answers And Obfuscation” With Refusing To Release Returns. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board wrote that Trump “is helping the Democrats with his changing answers and obfuscation” over his tax returns, and noted that “it has been common practice since the 1970s for the presidential nominees of both parties to release their tax returns.” The board added, “Trump says he thinks voters don’t care, but that’s a decision for the voters to make.” From the May 15 editorial:
Mr. Trump is helping the Democrats with his changing answers and obfuscation. In January the candidate said “I have everything all approved and very beautiful” and he hoped to release his returns “over the next three, four months.” He later said he couldn’t release his returns until the IRS finished auditing him, though the IRS says an audit is no barrier to public disclosure.
Keep in mind that it has been common practice since the 1970s for the presidential nominees of both parties to release their tax returns. Tax returns provide insight into a candidate’s income, charitable giving and tax-avoidance strategies. Mr. Trump says he thinks voters don’t care, but that’s a decision for the voters to make.
Mr. Trump may think all of this means he can resist this law of political gravity, and maybe he’s right. But neither Democrats nor the media will give up the tax-return issue now that he’s the Republican contender, and every time he’s asked about it will distract from the other messages he’s trying to deliver. The GOP voters who are nominating Mr. Trump can’t say they didn’t understand the Trumpian uncertainty they were buying. [The Wall Street Journal, 5/15/16]
Boston Herald: Releasing Tax Returns “The Reasonable Thing” For Trump To Do. The Boston Herald’s editorial board wrote that Trump’s “tax return dance will haunt his campaign every day from now until the election” and argued that, “For a candidate like Trump … that window into his finances ought to be held wide open.” The board also wrote that releasing returns is “the reasonable thing for the presumptive GOP nominee to do” and noted “voters have become accustomed by long tradition to learning about candidates’ sources of income, their tax burden, charitable contributions and business entanglements through review of the annual returns.” From the May 16 editorial:
Donald Trump can rest assured that his tax return dance will haunt his campaign every day from now until the election.
Releasing his most recent returns is, of course, the reasonable thing for the presumptive GOP nominee to do. While it isn’t required, voters have become accustomed by long tradition to learning about candidates’ sources of income, their tax burden, charitable contributions and business entanglements through review of the annual returns.
For a candidate like Trump, whose entire campaign is built on his professed wealth and his perceived business acumen, that window into his finances ought to be held wide open.
But he doesn’t think so.
Or does he?
Like so many other issues Trump has been on every side of this one — yes, he’ll release them; no, he won’t release them; maybe he’ll release them when an IRS audit is complete — and all of that in the same week. [Boston Herald, 5/16/15]
Star-Ledger: Trump “Should Be Willing To Demonstrate That He Has Lived Up To His Tax Obligations. The Star-Ledger’s editorial board wrote that Trump’s “usual excuse” of an “‘ongoing IRS audit’” for not releasing his returns “shows his contempt for his supporters” and noted, “releasing a tax return is a commitment to transparency, and it's more relevant for candidates who cannot be judged on a record of government service.” The board added that Trump “should be willing to demonstrate that he has lived up to his tax obligations.” From the May 13 editorial:
We only know is that The Donald describes his returns as “very beautiful” and offers absurd excuses for hiding them until after the election. His usual excuse – an “ongoing IRS audit” - shows his contempt for his supporters: That is not a legal barrier to releasing returns, tax experts confirm.
He could have political motives, however. Mitt Romney, who stumbled down this path in 2012, says, “The potential for hidden inappropriate associations with foreign entities, criminal organizations, or other unsavory groups is simply too great a risk to ignore for someone who is seeking to become commander-in-chief.”
But mostly, releasing a tax return is a commitment to transparency, and it's more relevant for candidates who cannot be judged on a record of government service. In either case, someone running for president should be willing to demonstrate that he has lived up to his tax obligations.
Trump can't be shamed into anything, much less releasing his returns. So for now, we are left to assume that the most revealing thing about them is his talent for deceit. [The Star-Ledger, 5/13/16]
La Opinión: Trump “Must Be Hiding Something Serious" In The Tax Returns He Refuses To Disclose. La Opinión's editorial board noted that Trump could “become the first U.S. presidential candidate in the last four-and-a-half decades” to fail to disclose his tax returns. The board pointed out that an IRS spokesman said taxpayers can make their statements public at any point, and wrote that Trump’s claim that voters aren’t interested in his returns “verges on the absurd.” According to the board, Trump's refusal to disclose indicates he “must be hiding something serious." Translated from the May 15 editorial:
Trump not only has refused to release his tax returns, but also has adopted an aggressive position when questioned about the issue. Last week, when asked by ABC’s journalist George Stephanopoulos about the tax rate he pays, he responded, “None of your business.”
Why is Trump refusing to make his tax returns public?
He indicated that it’s impossible to publically release this information at the present date because the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is conducting an audit of his accounts, but that when the audit is completed he will present the relevant documents.
However, IRS spokesperson Eric Smith has pointed out that taxpayers are at absolute freedom to make their tax returns public whenever they see fit and that nothing impedes a person from sharing their tax information.
In addition, Trump has said that American voters shouldn’t be interested in the information contained in his returns. This statement verges on the absurd. Of course the voters are interested in the information contained in the tax returns of a candidate.
Why then is Trump refusing to make his tax returns public?
The most logical answer is that he must be hiding something serious. There's no more to it.
Voters have let Trump get away with all kinds of insults, outbursts, flip-flops and lies. Are they going to be willing to let him get away with this lack of transparency in his financial management? [La Opinión, 5/15/16]
Chicago Sun-Times: Trump “Should Step Up And Do As Every Major Party Presidential Candidate Has Done For 36 Years -- Release His Tax Returns.” The Chicago Sun-Times’ editorial board called on Trump to “step up and do as every major party presidential candidate has done for 36 years,” writing that, “More so than for any other presidential candidate in decades, Trump’s tax returns might well reveal what we’ve really got here -- a person of some substance or utterly hot air.” The board added that Trump was “stalling” his with refusal to release his returns and that it is “time for full disclosure.” From the May 12 editorial:
Now that Donald Trump is the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party, he should step up and do as every major party presidential candidate has done for 36 years — release his tax returns.
Let’s see how Trump’s professed tax reforms, such as they are, might raise or lower his own taxes. Let’s see if he’s as wildly wealthy as he claims to be. Let’s see where his charitable heart lies, if it lies anywhere.
Trump just makes stuff up, unmoored from worries about truth or accuracy. Every word he says should be checked against a written record. More so than for any other presidential candidate in decades, Trump’s tax returns might well reveal what we’ve really got here — a person of some substance or utterly hot air.
Trump is just stalling, which begs the question of what he’s got to hide. There is no legitimate reason he should not release all his returns immediately.
President Richard Nixon released his tax returns in 1973 while under audit, following questions about a large deduction he had claimed for donating his vice presidential papers to the National Archives, according to presidential tax historian Joseph Thorndike. There is precedent, then, for taxes under audit being released to the public.
During the 2012 presidential race, Trump said he believed GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney “was hurt really very badly” by failing to disclose his tax returns by April 1. Said Trump at the time: “April 1st historically is the time that everybody gives them.”
Mr. Trump, you’ve blown that deadline. Time for full disclosure. [Chicago Sun-Times, 5/12/16]
New York Daily News: “Clearly Trump … Believes Exposing His Returns Would Hurt Him.” The New York Daily News’ editorial board wrote that “One can only assume the worst from a man who lies, fabricates and exaggerates for a very good living in which he measures his self-worth in dollars,” and argued that his refusal to release his returns shows he “believes exposing his returns would hurt him more” than “the damage caused by his delays and refusals.” The board added that Trump “has played for chumps the voters who believe they’re supporting an anti-politician who tells it like it is” with his refusal to release his tax returns. From the May 12 editorial:
Donald Trump used tax loopholes so aggressively last year that the IRS Service sent the billionaire a check for a couple grand for the Earned Income Tax Credit, which supports the working poor.
No, he didn’t — or did he? We won’t know, because Trump announced he has no intention after all of making public income tax returns that obviously include information as outrageous as the fantasy above.
One can only assume the worst from a man who lies, fabricates and exaggerates for a very good living in which he measures his self-worth in dollars.
At this point, voters will never get to judge whether Trump has met the citizen’s financial obligation to country because once again, he has played for chumps the voters who believe they’re supporting an anti-politician who tells it like it is.
In Jan. 2012, Trump said Mitt Romney “was hurt really very badly” by his initial refusal to release his returns. Clearly Trump, well aware of the damage caused by his delays and refusals, believes exposing his returns would hurt him more. [New York Daily News, 5/12/16]