Tax Return Disclosure (3 Responses)

I’ve received a number of emails like the one pasted below in support of Senate 365 which would require Presidential candidates to publish their tax returns in order to get ballot access in Massachusetts.

I think Donald Trump should release his tax returns. He is the first
candidate in 40 years to refuse to do so, but now that the tradition
has been broken, he may not be the last.

I believe that tax returns provide voters with critical information
about candidates for the most powerful office in the world, such as
potential conflicts of interest, policy priorities, and financial
entanglements with other countries.

Massachusetts has a simple solution to overcome the President’s
secrecy–we can pass S.365. This bill requires that from now on,
presidential candidates must release their tax returns in order to be
listed on the Massachusetts ballot. In fact, just last week Common
Cause and other groups testified at the State House in support of this
legislation.

Similar bills have been introduced in 25 other states with both Democratic and Republican sponsors. Transparency and accountability are not partisan issues.

I might support this as a federal law, but I am not cosponsoring this state-level bill.

I completely get the motivation for it — it is outrageous that President Trump was unwilling to disclose his tax returns. But in a sense, that is ultimately a statement that he has chosen to make and people had the opportunity to vote against him in part because of it.

Additionally, it troubles me that individual states could set disclosure rules as a condition of ballot access. I’ve heard it argued that this is constitutional, but I’m concerned that it could lead to a patchwork of enactments in different states that might come at it from a variety of political perspectives.

And consider this dynamic: The states that are most likely to enact this particular rule are states that Trump is never going to win in the electoral college. So, he just will skip ballot access here.

I just don’t think it is an appropriate piece of state legislation.

Would welcome further discussion here.

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    Will Brownsberger
    State Senator
    2d Suffolk and Middlesex District