New York: Donald Trump’s declaration that he doesn’t expect to release any of his tax returns before the November election would create a “an unprecedented level of secrecy surrounding his personal finances," a tax historian said.
“Every major nominee since Jimmy Carter has released at least a single return, and often quite a few more," said Joseph Thorndike, the director of the Tax History Project at Tax Analysts, a trade publication. Former President Gerald Ford released only a summary, not a full return, “but every candidate has done so since."
Trump, a billionaire businessman and the presumptive Republican nominee for President, said in an Associated Press interview published Tuesday that he doesn’t anticipate releasing his returns before November. “There’s nothing to learn from them," Trump said, according to the published report. A campaign spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trump said in February that he was being audited by the Internal Revenue Service, and wouldn’t release any returns until the audit’s over. “For many years, I’ve been audited every year, " he said during a 25 February Republican debate in Houston. “Twelve years or something like that."
But IRS officials have said there’s no reason an individual can’t release his or her returns—even during an audit. Thorndike said there’s a precedent for doing so: President Richard Nixon disclosed his return while he was being audited in 1973.
“Nixon released his returns because he was under audit," said Thorndike, a visiting scholar in history at the University of Virginia. “Presidential candidates don’t live by the same standards as everyone else—they agree to disclose a lot to voters. This is required by tradition. There’s no good explanation for him not to release his returns."
Trump’s statements about whether he’d release tax returns have shifted over time. Last October, he said on ABC’s This Week that he would release his returns “when we find out the true story on Hillary’s e-mails." The US justice department is investigating Clinton’s use of private e-mail during her term as secretary of state, but hasn’t set a deadline for the investigation.
In response to a question in October about his effective tax rate, Trump said: “I’m not going to say it, but at some point, I’m going to release it. But I pay as little as possible, I’m very proud to tell you."
Then in January, Trump said on NBC’s Meet the Press that he was preparing to release returns. “We’re working on that now," he said.
“I have very big returns, as you know, and I have everything all approved and very beautiful and we’ll be working that over in the next period of time." Bloomberg