History mandates presidential candidates release tax returns, but not how many

Trump surrogate defends secrecy on tax returns

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, yesterday became the latest Republican to urge Donald Trump to release his tax returns, a once-routine step the GOP nominee refuses to complete.
 
Trump’s son Eric, a prominent surrogate for his father’s presidential campaign, presented a relatively new defense for non-disclosure during a CNBC interview yesterday.
Eric Trump said Wednesday it would be “foolish” for his father to release his tax returns and subject them to scrutiny by people who don’t know what they are looking at.
 
“You would have a bunch of people who know nothing about taxes trying to look through and trying to come up with assumptions on things they know nothing about,” Mr. Trump said on CNBC. “It would be foolish to do. I’m actually the biggest proponent of not doing it.”
In the same interview, Eric Trump added, “I heard someone the other day, ‘Oh well, Trump has ties to the mob…. If he released his tax returns you would clearly see that.’ Are you guys kidding me? You learn a lot more when you look at a person’s assets. You know how many hotels we have around the world. You know how many golf courses we have around the world.”
 
At first blush, this may seem vaguely compelling. Tax law is complicated – accountants and tax lawyers exist for a reason – and for those unfamiliar with the substantive details, simply looking at tax returns without any background or context may lead to an incomplete picture.
 
But perhaps this can be the basis for some kind of compromise: if the Trump campaign doesn’t want to share the candidate’s returns with “a bunch of people who know nothing about taxes,” would Trump aides be willing to disclose the materials to people who do know something about taxes? How about sharing the documents with people who have a detailed understanding of the issue, who can help explain the facts to the public?
 
Or is it more likely this has nothing to do with tax expertise and Eric Trump’s excuse is just a ploy to rationalize unnecessary secrecy without modern precedent?
 
On a related note, Rachel sat down last night with Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager, and one of the topics they touched on was the Republican candidate’s tax returns.
 
Conway said Trump is following the advice of “his lawyers and accountants.”
The Rachel Maddow Show, 8/24/16, 9:33 PM ET

Maddow on Trump: 'I want to know if he pays taxes'

Kellyanne Conway, campaign manager for the Donald Trump campaign, talks with Rachel Maddow about Donald Trump’s excuse that an audit prevents him from releasing his tax returns.
 
 

Donald Trump

Trump surrogate defends secrecy on tax returns