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Mass. Bill Would Require Presidential Candidates to Release Tax Returns

by Countable | 9.7.17

What’s the story?

A ballot initiative in Massachusetts would require presidential candidates to publicly release six years of tax returns in order to appear on the state’s ballot.

The initiative was certified on Wednesday, meaning backers can now begin collecting signatures for the measure to appear on an upcoming ballot.

At the same time, Massachusetts state lawmakers held a hearing on a bill that would also require presidential candidates to release their tax returns to get on the state ballot. Candidates for vice president would have the same requirement.

Why does it matter?

"This bill is not about Donald Trump. It’s because of Donald Trump."

The quote comes from William Galvin, the Democratic secretary of state, during testimony about the bill. Galvin is referring to Trump breaking decades of tradition by refusing to release his tax returns during the 2016 presidential race.

Senator Michael Barrett, the bill’s Democratic sponsor, acknowledged that laws requiring a release of tax records could be subject to lawsuits. As Reuters explained, "The U.S. Constitution sets out qualifications to become president, and critics could argue the state’s law would unconstitutionally do the same."

Galvin, however, testified that these laws could survive a legal challenge as states have a right to set conditions to get on their ballots.

"I don't think there's any doubt that the states have the right to proscribe conditions for access to the ballot. We do that all the time," Galvin said, noting that the state also requires Congressional candidates to collect a certain number of signatures to get on the ballot. "Adding this additional qualification of disclosure is just one more question of access to the ballot."

Similar bills are pending in 24 states. In 2016, New Jersey lawmakers passed legislation requiring presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns, but it was vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie.

What do you think?

The Constitution says there are only three requirements to be elected president: The Commander in Chief must be a "natural born citizen," at least 35 years old and a resident within the U.S. for 14 years. However, states do have the right to create conditions to get on the ballot. Should releasing tax returns be one of them? Hit the Take Action button, tell your state reps, then comment below.

—Josh Herman

(Photo Credit: @realDonaldTrump via Twitter)

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(114)
  • Timnyc
    09/07/2017
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    Well I think we learned this lesson.We should expect and require all candidates as well as Congressional appointments to clear a full background and financial vetting PRIOR to any appointment. This is standard practice for all My Law Enforcement Jobs as well as my wife's Federal Job . No one should be appointed or hired without this check .

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  • Sadie
    09/07/2017
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    We should have a certified health report from Walter reed hospital, a mental evaluation from same, financial report concerning holdings and divestment plan if elected and tax returns and a criminal background check. Failure to comply means no nomination by any party.

    Like (31)
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  • Susan
    09/07/2017
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    A good start, now all 50 states need to follow suit.

    Like (25)
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  • Joanne
    09/07/2017
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    Of course it should be law- It would immediately be known who and what influencers the candidates are answering to.

    Like (23)
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  • Linda
    09/07/2017
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    Transparency in elections should be the standard process. Candidates must expect to be vetted. Voters need detailed information to select qualified officials with integrity, humility, and honesty.

    Like (18)
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  • Jeanne
    09/07/2017
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    Not only should they release six years of tax returns (prefer 10 years, but six will do), they must commit to a divestment plan or blind trust, and submit to a complete medical and mental health evaluation administered by Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (details of which should not be made public, just a general assessment) prior to entering the primaries.

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  • Laura
    09/08/2017
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    Yes, there should be transparency not only for candidates, but for any presidential appointees too.

    Like (13)
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  • Donna
    09/07/2017
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    It's sad that it must come to regulation since Presidents have willingly made their tax returns available for the past forty years, but Trump hiding his returns requires one more change to norms. There is little normal about this administration.

    Like (10)
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  • Leon
    09/07/2017
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    All politicians should have to comply with common employment processes. Drug tests, criminal history, physical, and credit check.

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  • Kodiwodi
    09/07/2017
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    Total transparency must be required. Financial, business investments, criminal past, medical exam by a panel, psychiatric exam by a panel, all these will be necessary for all cabinet level positions and higher in the future. What has happened with this administration must never happen again.

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  • Care4all
    09/08/2017
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    It's about time.

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  • Karen
    09/07/2017
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    Yes I want to see the law like this will require every federal, state, county, & city political candidates to show their tax returns because they get pay from the taxpayers. It will be more fair to every levels of political candidates

    Like (8)
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  • Jean
    09/07/2017
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    Love it ❤️

    Like (8)
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  • Gayle
    09/08/2017
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    I think we should require all presidential candidates to release at least 6 years of tax returns to appear on the ballot.

    Like (7)
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  • Daphne
    09/07/2017
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    Great idea! It should be the law of the land. Knowing which organizations a candidate supports financially will give voters better insight into the candidate's values and beliefs.

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  • Joanne
    09/07/2017
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    Because of trump, we see that there should be many requirements to run for the office of President of America. Showing tax returns is definitely one of them!!!

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  • Cndrla
    09/07/2017
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    Hell Yes! We all know there is a clear reason the orange orangutan won't release his taxes. The idiot, never would not be in the White House if this was a requirement. Let's learn from our mistakes and fix this so it will never happen again.

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  • Bluewitsend
    09/08/2017
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    I support having to turn over tax returns as a criteria for running for office. Politicians should be vetted for illegal or unethical behavior before running for office.

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  • MayasMom
    09/08/2017
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    I'd like to see Washington state be the next to follow suit. If every state requires full disclosure via tax returns in order to get on the ballot, then America is on the way to holding candidates accountable.

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  • Vanessa
    09/08/2017
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    Presidential candidates are public servants. Their chosen career calls for transparency. In their campaigns they claim that they should be the ones to represent our country and put its well-being as a priority. If they circumvent paying taxes, taking away from the pool of our country's well-being, this should be known!

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