As the Minnesota State congress reconvenes for session, an eye turns toward the presidential election. This Tuesday, four DFL representatives introduced a bill which would require any presidential candidate who wishes to be on a Minnesota ballot to release five years of tax returns.
Minnesota Joins three other states considering bills this session. In 2019, a total of 18 states introduced legislation which required that presidential candidates to release at least some portion of tax returns. One of those states, California, passed a measure which would require presidential candidates to release five years of tax returns – the same as the proposed MN law. The California law was challenged in court, and ultimately shot down by California’s supreme court, who ruled that the law was “unenforceable” based on the state’s own constitution.
It remains to be seen whether the bill will become law in Minnesota. The state House is majority Democrat, but the Senate is majority Republican. Even if the bill were to pass the house, senate and be signed into law by Governor Walz, it would still likely face the same challenge in court.
Between 1974 and 2012, every president except Ford voluntarily released the tax returns they filed while in office. Most vice presidents have also released their tax returns, including Mike Pence. Since his campaign began in 2015, Trump has rejected every call to release his tax return, citing reasons such as he was being audited, which does not impact whether he can choose to release the return, or that the taxes would be too confusing for the public. Given the concerns about Trump’s business interests in the U.S. and around the world, many on the left have continued to pressure the Trump administration to release his returns and follow suit with former presidents.
Trump has been so secretive regarding his tax returns, he has appealed it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Last year in New York, a grand jury subpoena was for 8 years of Trump tax returns related to an ongoing criminal probe. The SCOTUS has agreed to hear the case, which may have a dramatic outcome should Trump be forced to comply. In the meantime, MN will just have to decide how important financial transparency is.