California passed SB 149 through the State Assembly on Thursday. This bill, if made law, would compel all presidential candidates to release their tax returns if they wanted their names to be considered on the state’s ballot. SB 149 states:
Existing law establishes processes for printing on presidential primary ballots the names of candidates for President of the United States who are considered to be generally recognized candidates or who are selected by a sufficient number of registered voters. Existing law generally requires a write-in candidate for President in a presidential primary election to file an endorsement of his or her write-in candidacy with the Secretary of State, at least 21 days before the election.This bill would enact the Presidential Tax Transparency and Accountability Act, which would require a candidate for President, in order to have his or her name placed upon a primary election ballot, to file his or her income tax returns for the 5 most recent taxable years with the Secretary of State, as specified.
“President Trump’s blatant disregard for the tradition of releasing tax returns is dangerous to our democracy,” Senator Mike McGuire (D), one of the authors of the bill, said in a statement. “For decades, every President has put their personal beliefs aside and put our country first and released their returns. “
“SB 149 helps to reestablish desperately needed transparency in the White House, and we are looking forward to seeing the Governor’s signature on the bill.”
The fact that Donald Trump should release his tax returns because he’s a possible criminal is not the only reason for this kind of legislation. But with the levels of money in politics at this time, and the wealth politicians in general are seemingly able to acquire right after their stays in elected office, allowing the voters to see the possible conflicts of interest a candidate may or may not have with various industries and tax brackets, is an important step toward a more transparent government.