Donald Trump Would Be Off The Ballot In Nation’s Most Populous State In 2020 Unless He Releases Tax Returns

Donald Trump speaks at a White House event.
Scott Olson / Getty Images

Donald Trump will likely need to release five years worth of tax returns if he wants to be on the ballot in the nation’s most populous state for the 2020 presidential election.

The California state Senate voted to approve a measure that would bar any candidate who does not release tax returns, The Independent reported. The bill passed by a 27-10 vote and will now need the governor’s approval to become a state law.

As the report noted, the bill arose in response to Donald Trump’s refusal to release tax returns during the 2016 election or afterward. For the past 40 years, presidential candidates have released returns, but Trump claimed that he could not because he was under audit. There is nothing stopping someone from releasing tax returns even while under audit, the report added.

Democrats in California said that there is no reason for Trump to keep the returns hidden.

“We believe that President Trump, if he truly doesn’t have anything to hide, should step up and release his tax returns,” State Sen. Mike McGuire, a Democrat and co-author of the bill, told KTLA.

If the bill were to become law, Donald Trump would not only be barred from appearing on the 2020 general election ballot but also the state’s primary, which could be contested as former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld has announced plans to oppose Trump for the party’s nomination.

Democrats in California have already passed a similar bill, but it was vetoed by then-Governor Jerry Brown, who expressed fears that it would be unconstitutional. Brown has now been replaced by fellow Democrat Gavin Newsom, who they believe will be more apt to sign the bill. Newsom has not said whether he will sign it or not, however.

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A number of other states have taken steps toward keeping candidates off the ballot unless they release tax returns. As CNN noted, the Illinois state legislature has also moved toward instituting a policy requiring tax returns to be released. As the report noted, there have been 18 state legislatures that introduced bills requiring disclosure of tax returns in order for candidates to be included on the 2020 ballot, aimed primarily at Trump.

Donald Trump continues to resist calls to release his tax return and is filing legal action to prevent Democrats from seeing them. Other White House officials have said that American voters decided in the 2016 election that seeing Trump’s tax returns was not a major concern.