California moves to make tax returns a requirement for presidential primaries

Source: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

The California State Senate on Wednesday passed a bill that would require presidential candidates to submit their last five years of tax returns in order to appear on the primary ballot.

The bill is a response to President Donald Trump, who is the first president in 40 years to not release his tax returns.

Thousands of Democrats, as well as other anti-Trump forces, took to the streets in April to demand Trump release his taxes — but Trump has refused.

"The Legislature finds and declares that a presidential candidate’s income tax returns provide voters with essential information regarding the candidate’s potential conflicts of interest, business dealings, financial status, and charitable donations," the bill text reads.

"Donald Trump’s refusal to release his income tax returns departed from decades of established political tradition, denying voters the opportunity to fully evaluate his fitness for the office of President of the United States," the bill continues.

Protesters hold up signs during a Tax Day rally in downtown Denver on April 15, 2017.
Source: David Zalubowski/AP

California isn't the only state that could make tax returns a requirement for ballot access.

New York and Massachusetts are also weighing similar bills.

And legal experts say that the laws would pass Constitutional muster.

"The efforts of state legislators to ensure their constituents have access to candidate tax return information in the future are legitimate and consistent with both the text and the values of our Constitution," election experts Laurence H. Tribe, Richard W. Painter and Norman L. Eisen wrote in a CNN opinion piece on the tax return laws in April.

California's tax return requirement bill passed the state senate on a strict party-line vote, according to the Los Angeles Times, with the state's 27 Democrats voting yes and the 13 Republicans voting no.

It now heads to the state Assembly, where Democrats hold 55 seats to the GOP's 25.

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Emily C. Singer

Emily C. Singer, née Cahn, is a senior writer for Mic covering politics. She is based in New York and can be reached at esinger@mic.com

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