By David J. Herzig
Today, Paul Caron in his TaxProf Blog, highlighted an article by John McGinnis (a Constitutional Law Scholar at Northwestern). In the article, McGinnis states that Trump should not have to disclose his income tax returns. His premise is that the norm of tax return disclosure is “bad.” He believes that privacy norms should trump any right of the electorate to see a candidates taxes. I vehemently disagree with this normative position. I hesitate to write a “hot take” or half-baked reaction to the article. But there is dangerous precedent failing to highlight the error(s) in McGinnis’ position. (I am under the assumption that McGinnis had limited space to write his opinion and nuance he would normally make is lost to space constraints).
I, as well as others such as, Joe Thorndike, have previously made the point that tax return disclosure is very important. In my Forbes article, I made the point of a variety of reason tax return disclosure is very important. I said, “First, tax returns can be a window to understanding how someone truly thinks and behaves; what you do when you think the public isn’t looking, shows the more authentic self. (Hillary Clinton’s tax return is arguably less revealing, since she has long known her returns would be made public.) Trump’s tax filings might provide some additional insight into how he would run the country. Does he follow rules? Stake out very aggressive positions? Take unnecessary risks?” I think how people act in private is the best proxy for understanding what they think. With a candidate like Trump, this may be the only window into how a Trump presidency would look like.
McGinnis starts his discussion by making the first point in support of his thesis that Continue reading “Trump Tax (Non) Disclosure”