Rhode Island To Block Donald Trump From The 2020 Ballot For Not Releasing Tax Returns

Every state counts in a presidential election, so today looks like it might be a good day for President Trump to release his tax returns. That's because lawmakers in Rhode Island passed a bill this week that would require anyone running for president to file tax information going back five years if they want to place their names on the ballot, reports the Providence Journal.

The Rhode Island State Senate voted 34-to-3 to require presidential and vice-presidential candidates on the measure to release their tax returns going back for five years. Little Rhody is not the only state passing that kind of legislation, either. Lawmakers passed a similar bill in early May in Maryland that would also make a presidential candidate publicize their tax returns before they can appear on the state ballot.

Donald Trump's reasoning for not releasing his tax records during the election was that he was being audited by the IRS at the time and couldn't release any of the records until the review was complete. He had this to say in 2016 about his tax returns,

"I get audited every year. I will absolutely give my return, but I'm being audited now for two or three years, so I can't do it until the audit is finished, obviously. And I think people would understand that."
President Donald Trump during a cabinet meeting
Associated Press | Evan Vucci

According to Newsweek, the IRS responded to Trump's reasoning by insisting that there is nothing holding back candidates from releasing tax information, even in the middle of an audit.

Donald Trump is the only presidential candidate that hasn't released his tax information in decades. Every president since then has made them available to the public by choice since The Providence Journal exposed Richard Nixon's discrepancies in his tax returns.

Richard Nixon's financial records were put under a microscope in 1973 when he was found cheating on his taxes. His write-offs were made public during the Watergate trial.

Nixon, during that time, said he welcomed that type of scrutiny. He also famously said, as reported by New York Times, that "people have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I am not a crook." Within Months, Nixon resigned from the presidency and was additionally accused of misusing federal agencies such as the FBI and the IRS.

Richard Nixon resigning on National TV
Getty Images | BobZazzle2
President Nixon resigns (1974).

Democrats who run Rhode Island's state Senate said that a candidate's tax returns help voters make informed decisions about presidential candidates by providing information about their potential conflicts interests and any other pertinent information they need to know.

The White House released a statement saying that Donald Trump filed an extension on his 2017 tax return, according to The New York Times. He has until October 15 to submit those tax records.