Come Monday, millions of Americans will have met the deadline to pay their share of income taxes.
Paying taxes is an unpleasant duty of every American. On this issue, more than most, the person who leads the nation must lead by example.
Yet, Trump, halfway through a term shadowed by serious questions about past tax shenanigans and current financial conflicts of interest, continues to hide his returns.
This more than justifies the House effort to shake loose that information.
And House Democrats ratcheted up demands for access to Trump’s tax returns Saturday, telling the IRS that the law clearly gives Congress a right to them. The government’s failure to respond by an April 23 deadline could send the dispute into federal court.
Though the president is not required by law to make tax returns public, Trump is ending the practice of presidents of both parties who, since the 1970s, have shared that information with the nation they serve.
He claimed the IRS was, and still is, auditing him, and therefore he can’t release his returns. The first assertion may or may not be true; the second definitely isn’t. And after the November midterm elections, Trump claimed that the filings were too complex for people to understand. That’s not true either.
Polls continue to show that Americans, by large margins, want him to uphold this important tradition of transparency.
Trump’s stubborn refusal to do this, while not illegal, has become painfully conspicuous.
The president, who loves to brag about his wealth, stands ready to go to the highest court in the country to maintain the right to keep his finances sealed. And the more he and his allies fight it, the more curious and confounding it becomes.
Trump’s refusal to disclose his taxes denies voters answers to questions that only a tax return can supply.
Does our president pay taxes at all? If so, at what rate? Does he have financial arrangements that conflict with his official duties, or even compromise national security? How much did he personally benefit from the Republican tax cuts?
Given all of the gyrations that Trump has been doing regarding his tax returns, one can legitimately wonder what he has to hide by refusing to release them. Perhaps, if nothing else, it will show his dishonesty in trying to evade his responsibility to pay taxes as the rest of us have to do.