President Trump should embrace transparency and disclose his tax returns


A page from President Trump's 2005 tax return.

In May 2016, Sunlight said that Congress should mandate disclosure of the tax returns of presidential candidates. As we detailed, the public can learn a lot from a tax return that’s relevant to an electoral decision.

In the months since, the need for enacting such a mandate has only become greater. During the campaign, President Donald J. Trump became the first major party candidate since the 1970’s to refuse to release tax information, despite initially pledging to do so.

The leak of some of Trump’s 2005 returns added only a small piece of a much larger landscape of Trump’s overall tax record. Accountability to the public relies upon transparency regarding the finances of public servants, a standard that has served our country well for decades.

That singular issue is why we have chosen to participate in this Saturday’s Tax March in DC: We believe in open government.

We think a majority of Americans do, too, as shown by public polling and the most popular White House petition in history.

Since his election to the White House, President Trump has not only repudiated decades of democratic norms by refusing to disclose his returns. Despite the demonstrated public interest for doing so, the president has refused to divest from his businesses, place his assets in a blind trust and put an independent monitor in charge of oversight, carrying unprecedented conflicts of interest into the White House.

We hope that sustained public interest in the President’s tax returns will bend the arc of openness in this presidency back towards the American values of public service over private interest that our democracy deserves.