Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Maryland Tries to Drop a Huge Wrench Into Donald Trump's Minuscule Gears

It's started in Maryland but the Old Line state may be just the first. A bill is working its way through the state legislature that anyone running for president of the United States must file copies of their tax returns with the state Board of Elections two months prior to voting day. No tax return, you're not on the ballot.

Rick Hasen, a U.C. Irvine law professor who specializes in elections, explored the possibility in a March 2017 article for Politico. At the time, he noted that almost half of the state legislatures were considering some kind of measure that would compel future presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns. The optimal path for this reform is through each state’s power to determine how it selects its presidential electors.

Today, the states invariably leave the choice to the voters. But the earliest American presidential elections saw a variety of methods ranging from popular vote to selection by state legislators. There’s no formal barrier that prevents a return to the old ways, either. “In other words, if the California or Texas state legislature wanted to directly choose the state’s presidential electors in 2020, the state could do so,” Hasen noted.

Since the states can tinker with the method of choosing electors, he explained, the argument follows that they could impose other barriers like the mandatory release of tax returns.


Anonymous said...

How about a morality standard or a psychological assessment or a basic citizenship test that requires a grade school knowledge of the constitution.

Owen Gray said...

The conventional wisdom is that Mueller has Trump's tax returns, Mound. When they're released lots of stuff is going to hit the fan.

crf said...

Federal law enumerates (us code Title 26, section 6301) all the reasons for disclosure of federal tax returns to federal and state authorities. The law allows federal tax returns to be disclosed to state authorities in individuals' state tax returns (that is, for the purposes of taxation in that state). There is no provision to make public an individual's tax return public in any circumstance.

So Maryland could get Donald's federal tax return, but only if Donald filed state taxes in Maryland, and even then Maryland could only use that information for tax purposes, not any other purposes, and could never release it publicly.

It sounds to me like Maryland is wasting their time.

crf said...

Sorry, Section 6103

rumleyfips said...

crf: Read the article again. The onus for disclosure would be on the candidate not the federal government. Maryland could easily write in a public information clause.

crf said...

This is distinction without a difference rumleyfips: we are talking about information shared between a citizen and the federal government, not personal property.

This federal tax information is, as written right in the law, private and confidential (returns and return information), and the confidentiality applies to agents of the federal government and of any state in the union. A member of the union cannot compel an individual to release their federal tax information. And all the methods enumerated in that federal law for the release of information to states do so in order to advance certain goals while maintaining its privacy. There is no situation mentioned in law where a tax return can be made public.

Candidates are not special people, even the TNR article acknowledges the fact that the US Constitution provides all the qualifications an individual must meet for the office of the President: releasing tax information is not one of those qualifications. (Both the TNR article and the Politico article it references do not even mention the US federal tax code and all its explicit and easy to understand privacy protections. This oversight makes they are examples of cherry picking by partisan lawyers and commentators.)

ben said...

States have the absolute right to set standards for candidates to be on the ballot in their State.

Nothing wrong with setting a rule that says tax forms have to accompany an application to be on the ballot. If the candidate refuses to comply he can't run in that State.

Simple to me.