How to Get Trump’s Tax Returns

Ethics and Democracy | March 30, 2017

Until we see Trump’s tax returns, we cannot be certain that foreign governments don’t have leverage over President Trump. Use this explainer and sample questions to demand Trump's tax returns at your MoC's next congressional town hall.

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Is Trump colluding with Russia or enriching himself off the presidency? There’s one easy way to find out. Every president since Carter has released their tax returns for a simple reason: it demonstrates that they don’t have conflicts of interests. But Trump has refused to release his tax returns. This would be unacceptable for any president, and it’s particularly shocking given the global reach of Trump’s businesses, including those tied to Russia.

Until we see Trump’s tax returns, we cannot be certain that foreign governments don’t have leverage over Trump that can be used to influence American policy. And we can’t be certain that he’s acting in the best interests of Americans. The integrity of American democracy is at stake here, and Congress needs to defend it.

Congress has power to get his returns...but they’re sitting on their hands. Trump isn’t a kinghe can’t simply mandate that his tax returns remain hidden. Congress has the power to get his tax returns. But they’re refusing to use this power, largely because Republicans in the House and Senate are blocking efforts to do so.

This is simply unacceptable. Members of Congress are standing up for Trump instead of standing up for their country and their constituents. Given the importance to our democracy and to national security, Congress should step in and make Trump’s returns public. This is why our founders established our system of checks and balances in the first placeto ensure that no single branch of government gets away with abuses of power.

What you can do during April Recess to Get Trump’s Tax Returns

Demand that your three MoCs defend our democracy by co-sponsoring the Presidential Tax Transparency Act, which would require Donald Trump to make his tax returns public.

The Presidential Tax Transparency Act

This simple bill would require President Trump and future major party presidential nominees to release the three most recent years of their tax returns, with only minor redactions for privacy. If they refuse, the Treasury would provide the returns to the Office of Government Ethics or Federal Election Commission.

  • For your Representative, tell them to protect our democracy by co-sponsoring the Presidential Tax Transparency Act, or H.R. 305. Note that this is a bipartisan bill in the House, with support on both sides of the aisle.
  • For your Senator, tell them to protect our democracy by co-sponsoring the Presidential Tax Transparency Act, or S. 26.

Town Hall Questions

  • Donald Trump has financial interests here in the U.S. and in a lot of other countries. We’ve also seen undeniable evidence that the Trump campaign has maintained close ties to the Russian government and may be vulnerable to blackmail. But he has not taken the necessary steps to eliminate potential conflicts of interest. All of this scares me. One way he could reassure Americans is by releasing his tax returns, and yet he refuses. Congress can act unilaterally without Trump’s permission to release his returns, and should. This isn’t a partisan issue; it’s a matter of public trustand I want to be able to trust my president. Will you co-sponsor the Presidential Tax Transparency Act?
  • As you know, every single president since Jimmy Carter, including Republicans, has released his tax returns. Doing so has become an important practice of transparency, showing the American public that a president does not have conflicts of interest. Donald Trump refuses to release his tax forms. Do you believe, as I do, that Trump should release his tax returns to prove that he isn’t using the office of the president for financial gain?  Congress has the authority to obtain his tax returns, and I think it should. This isn’t a partisan issue; it’s a matter of public trustand I want to be able to trust my president. Will you co-sponsor the Presidential Tax Transparency Act?
  • Even after making several promises to release his tax returns, Donald Trump refuses to release them. He claims that he’s unable to because he’s being audited. However, even Richard Nixonanother Republican presidentreleased his tax returns while undergoing an audit. I’m worried he’s hiding something that would prevent him from prioritizing his duties as the President. Do you believe, as I do, that Trump should release his tax returns to ensure he acts in the best interest of the American people, and not his own self-interest? Congress has the authority to obtain his tax returns, and I think it should. This isn’t about politics; it’s about public trustand I want to be able to trust my president. Will you co-sponsor H.R. 305/S.27, the Presidential Tax Transparency Act?
  • The next thing Donald Trump wants to do is pass tax reform, which experts agree will be a huge giveaway to the wealthy and will lead to some middle classes paying more in taxes. He plans to do this even though he refuses to release his tax returns, meaning we don’t know how much he stand to gain from tax reform. Will you insist that Donald Trump release his tax returns before doing anything on tax reform?