State Politics

NC senator’s ‘T.R.U.M.P. Act’ would force presidential candidates to release tax returns

N.C. Sen. Jay Chaudhuri
N.C. Sen. Jay Chaudhuri cseward@newsobserver.com

An N.C. Senate Democrat is proposing legislation that would keep presidential candidates off North Carolina’s ballot unless they release their tax returns.

Sen. Jay Chaudhuri of Raleigh filed the bill Tuesday under the title “Tax Returns Uniformly Made Public Act,” or “T.R.U.M.P. Act.” Similar legislation – also featuring an acronym that spells out the president’s name – has been filed in other states, including New York.

President Donald Trump has faced repeated calls to release his tax returns but has declined to do so, citing ongoing IRS audits of his returns.

The bill would require the candidate’s most recent five years of returns to be filed with the N.C. State Board of Elections at least 70 days before the election, and the documents would be posted online after redacting personal information. Any candidates who doesn’t fulfill the requirement wouldn’t appear on the ballot.

The requirement wouldn’t apply to candidates for any other elected office.

“I filed the T.R.U.M.P. Act because I believe every presidential candidate, including Donald Trump, should disclose their tax returns,” Chaudhuri said in an email. “I did so for three reasons. First, every major party presidential candidate for the last 40 years has made his or her tax returns public. Second, such disclosures allow the public to know whether these candidates have conflicts of interest. For example, does Donald Trump have business dealings with Russia? Finally, this bill has a lot of support – by a majority of North Carolinians and members of both parties, including Republican Congressman Walter Jones of North Carolina.”

The liberal group Progress N.C. Action has been promoting the “T.R.U.M.P. Act” with an online petition urging state lawmakers to file the legislation in North Carolina. The petition website says it has about 5,500 signatures so far.

“It’s a common sense measure that would guarantee transparency,” the organization wrote in an email to supporters. “Since Trump refuses to release any of his tax returns, states need to take matters into their own hands.”

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