As More Evidence Emerges of Russia’s Preference for Trump and President-Elect Refuses to Divest Business Interests, Cicilline Reintroduces Legislation Requiring Disclosure of Tax Returns

Jan 17, 2017

PAWTUCKET – With President-elect Donald Trump’s recent comments regarding his contempt for NATO and his faith in Vladimir Putin raising new questions about the depths of his relationship with the Russian government, U.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline (D-RI) today announced that he has reintroduced The Presidential Tax Disclosure Act (H.R. 540) to require the publication of current tax returns filed annually with the Internal Revenue Service by any sitting President of the United States.

“Like many Americans, I am deeply concerned about what information President-elect Trump might be hiding in his tax returns. His ongoing refusal to disclose these documents, which have been made public by every president in recent years, suggests there’s something that he doesn’t want the public to know,” said Cicilline, who serves in House leadership as a co-chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee. “Americans should always have full confidence that the President is acting in our national interest, but President-elect Trump continues to undermine this confidence. This bill is a necessary tool to hold the President of the United States accountable and ensure he adheres to the highest ethical standards at all times.”

The Presidential Tax Disclosure Act requires any individual holding the Office of President of the United States to submit a copy of his or her Federal income tax returns to the Director of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) during his or her time in office. The Director of OGE will then have up to seven days to make the President’s tax returns publicly available on the Internet, in addition to submitting them to the House Committees on the Judiciary, on Ways and Means, and on Oversight and Government Reform, as well as the Senate Committees on the Judiciary and on Finance.

By declining repeated requests to release his returns, President-elect Trump is poised to break with four decades of precedent that was first established when Jimmy Carter released his tax returns in 1977, while the Watergate scandal was still fresh in the minds of voters. Since that time, every sitting president has made their tax returns available for public scrutiny.

Trump’s refusal to do so, combined with his affinity for Vladimir Putin’s government, has raised questions about what might be hidden in his returns. The New York Times, which acquired a copy of the President-elect’s 1995 tax returns last October, found that he may have avoided paying any federal income taxes at all for up to 18 years. In addition, Trump has refused to divest his business interests, an action that ethics experts and legal scholars say will violate the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution once he enters office.

During a press conference this past week, President-elect Trump reiterated his refusal to make his tax returns public, saying, “You know, the only one that cares about my tax returns are the reporters, OK? They're the only who ask…I don’t think [the American public cares] at all. I don’t think they care at all.”

Public polls taken during the 2016 consistently demonstrated that a majority of the American people want President-elect Trump to publicly release his tax returns. The Presidential Tax Disclosure Act makes such a disclosure mandatory, ensuring that President-elect Trump, and any future presidents, will have any potential conflicts of interest made public.

The Presidential Tax Disclosure Act is co-sponsored by 20 of Cicilline’s colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives. It has been referred the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means where it awaits further consideration.