California’s Presidential Tax Transparency Bill Approved in First Senate Committee

Legislation by Senators Wiener and McGuire would require presidential candidates to release their tax returns

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Sacramento, CA – Transparency is a nonpartisan issue. And it’s transparency that provides the basis for accountability in Government. For the past forty years, every US President – Republicans and Democrats alike – have released their tax returns. That is, until President Trump took office.

In response, California State Senators Mike McGuire and Scott Wiener reintroduced legislation this year that would require all presidential candidates to release their tax returns prior to being placed on the California ballot. That bill, SB 27, was approved in its first Senate Committee today with a 3-1 vote.

“President Trump’s refusal to release his income tax returns has broken a time honored, bi-partisan tradition which has weakened our democracy and his jaw dropping business conflicts have now put the security of our nation at risk,” Senator Mike McGuire said. “There’s a lot at stake and there are serious, pressing questions that need to be answered before Election Day, which is why Senator Wiener and I are advancing this critical transparency bill.”

The Presidential Tax Transparency & Accountability Act will require basic tax information to be shared with the California public and require that all presidential candidates release the last five years of their tax returns in order to appear on the California ballot. The returns would also be made available to the public on the Secretary of State’s website.

The Presidential Tax Transparency bill was last passed by the legislature with Republican and Democratic support in 2017. Senators McGuire and Wiener reintroduced the bill as SB 27 in December.

“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,” said Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), who is a joint author of SB 27. “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.”

Prior to Donald Trump’s refusal to release any tax returns, every president since Jimmy Carter (over 40 years) has released at least one year of tax returns. During the 2016 Presidential election, Hillary Clinton (Democratic) and Jill Stein (Green) both released their tax returns.

Contrary to President Trump's statements in public that Americans don’t care about his tax returns, recent polls have shown that 63 percent of Americans believe Trump’s tax returns should be released.

Included in this year’s Presidential Tax Transparency bill is an urgency clause so the legislation would take effect immediately, prior to the filing deadline for 2020 Presidential candidates.

SB 27 was approved this morning in the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee and is endorsed by California Secretary of State Alex Padilla. It will be heard next in the Senate Judiciary Committee.