President Donald Trump refused to reveal his tax returns saying that they were under audit. This year, he will surely be audited again, as all presidents are. That never prevented any of them from making their taxes public.
The New York millionaire is the first presidential candidate to refuse to go through the formality of showing his tax returns since the 1960s. At first he stated that he would do so, but months later he said that he was unable to because the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was auditing him.
Now as president, Trump has said that journalists are the only ones interested in the topic, citing his victory in the election as proof.
For politicians, disclosing how much they pay in taxes represents an act of honesty, of transparency, aimed at earning the trust of voters.
That is not the case with Trump, which is why the demands for him to do it continue. Tomorrow, April 15, the deadline to file taxes, protests will be held in over 120 cities to make him comply.
Trump’s campaign redefined the role of a candidate. When he was accused of hiding that he does not pay enough taxes, he said that that made him smart. He had no qualms – and it did not stop him from winning the election – implying that people who are unable to pay accountants to help them evade taxes are dumb.
Not having to reveal his returns allows Trump to hide the investments he has made in more than 400 companies throughout the world, a conglomerate that is influenced by the decisions he takes as president. The fact that his children manage his companies guarantees nothing, and the questionable limits that were set in the beginning have gradually been withdrawn.
The IRS has a special system to audit the president and vice president. It is a priority for the federal agency.
That represents new pressure for Trump. It is considered important for a president to make his tax returns public because it gives the IRS credibility by showing it is capable of auditing its own “boss” in an impartial manner.
Although it is not ordered by law, democracy requires its politicians to be transparent, particularly the most powerful one of them. Trump has a duty he must honor, and the people of the United States must demand that he does it.