Ex-IRS commissioner says Trump should release tax returns

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A former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) commissioner is urging GOP presidential front-runner Donald TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense: Pentagon hails Fallujah's recapture | Texts to VA suicide hotline went unanswered Overnight Energy: U.S., Mexico, Canada to team up on clean energy The Trail 2016: Warren takes VP batting practice MORE to release his tax returns.

"Trump either stands by his returns — which he previously promised to release — or he doesn't," Mark Everson, who served as IRS commissioner while George W. Bush was president, told NBC News.

Everson, who had sought the Republican presidential nomination himself before dropping out in November, added that if a presidential candidate did not allow voters to view his or her tax returns, "it would be a real rupture in our political system."

Trump has been facing pressure to release his tax returns since 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney suggested last week that there could be a “bombshell” in the returns. Trump’s two closest rivals for the Republican nomination, Sen. Marco RubioMarco RubioThe Trail 2016: Warren takes VP batting practice Democrats: Momentum on our side in abortion fight US, Mexico have mutual ambassadors for first time in over a year MORE (Fla.) and Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzOvernight Tech: Judiciary leaders question domain transition | Clinton to talk tech | Wheeler drops media ownership update Kasich doesn't expect to speak at convention Anti-Trump leaders sending 'advance team' to Cleveland: report MORE (Texas), both released the first two pages of their tax returns on Saturday.

But Trump has said he will not release his returns until the IRS finishes auditing him.

The IRS has said nothing prevents a taxpayer from releasing his or her returns, a point Everson echoed.

"He can release his returns in the morning if he wants to — nothing is stopping him from doing that," he told NBC News. Everson added that taxpayers would provide companies with their tax returns while under audit because the original tax return reflects their tax statuses at the time the documents were filed.

Everson served as IRS commissioner from 2003 to 2007. After leaving the IRS, he served briefly as president of the American Red Cross but resigned from that post after having an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate.