Cicilline Introduces Presidential Tax Disclosure Act

Bill to require publication of President’s tax returns filed as Ways and Means Committee’s Oversight Subcommittee prepares for hearing tomorrow on presidential tax returns

WASHINGTON – Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (DPCC) Chair David N. Cicilline (RI-01) introduced legislation today to require that anyone holding the office of President of the United States make his or her tax returns available to the public. The bill applies to tax returns filed within three years of taking office and for each year the individual holds the presidency.

«The President’s ongoing refusal to make his tax returns public raises serious questions about his judgment,» said Cicilline, who serves on the House Judiciary Committee. «The American people have a right to know whether any president makes decisions in the public interest or for their own private financial benefit. This bill will ensure that the President of the United States is held accountable if they abuse the public trust.»

Cicilline’s bill will require the President to submit a copy of his or her federal tax returns to the Office of Government Ethics (OGE), which will then make the returns publicly available on the Internet and also submit the returns to the House Committees on the Judiciary, on Ways and Means, and on Oversight and Reform. Cicilline, who has voluntarily made his own tax returns public, first introduced the Presidential Tax Disclosure Act in December 2016, shortly after President Donald Trump took office.

Despite promising to release his tax returns during the 2016 campaign, President Trump has refused to make them public for the two years he has held office. This decision broke 40 years of precedent, as Trump became the first President since Gerald Ford to not release his tax returns for public scrutiny.

The decision has raised serious concerns about whether Trump, who has also refused to divest from his private business holdings, is making decisions in the best interests of the country. Observers have also noted that the President’s claims of having no business activities with Russia, the country that hacked and disclosed the emails of private American citizens in order to benefit the Trump campaign, cannot be proven or disproven without looking at his tax returns.

The House Ways and Means Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight has announced it will hold a hearing tomorrow afternoon on legislative proposals related to presidential and vice-presidential tax returns. Democrats have invited four experts in the area to deliver testimony – Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington; Steven M. Rosenthal of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center; Joseph J. Thorndike of the nonprofit publisher Tax Analysts; and George K. Yin, a University of Virginia law professor and former chief of staff to the Joint Committee on Taxation.