Employers run credit checks on potential employees. They often call former employers, and some even conduct background checks. That’s because when someone hires you to do a job, they need proof you are who you say you are.
Not only should we apply those same standards to presidential candidates, we should insist they release at least ten years of tax returns if they wish to debate on a national stage. It should be a constitutional amendment so that both parties must comply. Vice presidential candidates should also be required to release their taxes since they are second in line if something should happen to the POTUS.
Voters need to be sure candidates aren’t beholden to a hostile foreign adversary – or any foreign nation. Voters also have a right to know the sources of income of each candidate, and whether or not they are being truthful about their worth.
If all presidential candidates were required to release ten years of tax returns, Donald Trump wouldn’t have been able to debate. Imagine that. We would not have witnessed a Republican debate stage where one candidate calls his opponents juvenile names and brags about how big his hands are. Donald would never have made it to the Oval Office. We haven’t seen his taxes and he doesn’t want them to be released. He is hiding something and, now, most of his cult following don’t care about possible criminal or unethical behavior.
Here’s another fact: Senator Bernie Sanders would not have been able to debate with Hillary Clinton in 2016 if it had already been mandatory for all candidates to release their taxes. He released a summary page of his 2014 tax returns. Sanders recently told Trevor Noah of The Daily Show he’d release his on April 15.
SANDERS***:*** April 15th is coming. That will be the tenth year and we will make them all public very...
NOAH***:*** What's all? Just so people know.
SANDERS***:*** Ten years. And by the way, I'm delighted to do that, proud to do that. Hey Mister Trump [looks at camera], you do the same thing.
According to Axios, here are the Democratic candidates who have released their returns:
April 1: Sen. Amy Klobuchar released her family's tax returns dating back to 2006 because "transparency and accountability are fundamental to good governance."
March 27: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand became the first 2020 candidate to release her 2018 tax returns, calling for other candidates to do the same.
March 29: Gov. Jay Inslee released 12 years of his tax returns, including 2018, during an appearance on "Fox & Friends," treating his release as a direct challenge to Trump.
Worth noting: Sen. Elizabeth Warren released 10 years of her tax returns in August 2018 — well before she officially announced her 2020 candidacy.
Also worth noting, Jeb Bush released 33 years worth of tax returns in 2015.
It’s important for candidates to release them before debating on a national stage in case one of them has been compromised or is unethical. They shouldn’t be allowed to sell their brand while hiding key facts that might otherwise disqualify them in the minds of voters.
Candidate X might be a charismatic speaker and talk a big game, but he or she shouldn’t have the platform to win over voters without full transparency. Voters need to know up-front if candidates are being truthful about their financial standing, or if their finances reveal unethical behavior.
We will never know if it would have made a difference had Trump released his tax returns in the last election. But we do know the American people never got the chance to make a completely informed decision about who they were voting for. Now that he’s hardwired into the psyches of diehard Trump supporters, it’s obvious they wouldn’t care if it’s revealed he’s not as wealthy as he says he is, or even if it’s proven he’s beholden to Russia. To them, anything negative about their idol is fake news. Making it mandatory to release taxes prior to debating prevents a replay of that destructive scenario.