House Dems offer bill to require presidents to release tax returns

A pair of House Democrats on Wednesday offered legislation to require presidents and presidential candidates to release their tax returns as Democrats are prioritizing obtaining President TrumpDonald John TrumpProtesters tear down statue of Christopher Columbus in Baltimore 'Independence Day' star Bill Pullman urges Americans to wear a 'freedom mask' in July 4 PSA Protesters burn American flag outside White House after Trump's July Fourth address MORE's tax returns in the new Congress.

The legislation, offered by Reps. Anna EshooAnna Georges EshooWhy drug costs for older Americans should be capped in pandemic's wake Senate panel advances bill targeting online child sexual abuse Short-term health plans leave consumers on the hook for massive medical costs, investigation finds MORE (D-Calif.) and Bill PascrellWilliam (Bill) James PascrellOusted Manhattan US Attorney Berman to testify before House next week Pelosi throws cold water on impeaching Barr Judiciary Democrat calls for House to pursue impeachment of Barr MORE (D-N.J.), would require sitting presidents and vice presidents, and major-party nominees for those offices, to make public their 10 most recent federal income tax returns. The bill is aimed at Trump, the first president in decades not to release his tax returns.

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“Being able to scrutinize the tax returns of a man or woman seeking to occupy the most powerful position on earth is a low bar, and one that candidates long abided by until 2016," Pascrell said in a news release. "Americans have a right to know if their President is a crook. Imposing this requirement will ensure that transparency and ethical behavior are minimum requirements for any presidential candidate.”

The provisions in Pascrell and Eshoo's bill are also included in a wide-ranging ethics bill House Democrats introduced last week known as H.R. 1. Democrats are expected to hold hearings on that bill in the coming weeks before bringing it to a vote on the House floor.

Eshoo and Pascrell have both been pushing for congressional action on Trump's tax returns since the 2016 presidential race, when Eshoo released her first piece of legislation on the matter.

Pascrell has been a leader of Democrats' efforts to have Congress request Trump's tax returns from the Treasury Department — an action that House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealOn The Money: Breaking down the June jobs report | The biggest threats facing the recovery | What will the next stimulus bill include? Democratic leaders are much more progressive than you might believe On The Money: Governors rethink opening bars, restaurants amid spike in COVID-19 cases | Spiking cases threaten fragile economic recovery | Supreme Court rules consumer bureau director can be fired at will MORE (D-Mass.) is expected to take later this year.

“Tax returns contain vital information for voters and the public, including whether an individual has paid any taxes; whether they made charitable donations; and whether they took advantage of tax loopholes or offshore tax shelters," Eshoo said.

Trump has said that he won't release his tax returns while he is under audit. But the IRS has said audits don't prevent people from disclosing their own tax information.