Trump must share re­turns be­fore pass­ing tax re­form

Hawaii Tribune Herald - - COMMENTARY - — News­day

U.S. tax­pay­ers paid their pres­i­dent more than $35,000 so the Se­cret Ser­vice can use golf carts at one of his cour­ses near his Mar-a-Lago re­sort. Don­ald Trump has been there on seven of the 13 week­ends he’s been in of­fice. Each time, he’s pres­i­dent and cheer­leader in chief for his brand. He at­tends events with re­sort mem­bers, who now pay higher fees. Ev­ery photo op is more mar­ket­ing for the prop­erty. The Gov­ern­ment Ac­count­abil­ity Of­fice is an­a­lyz­ing the costs of those Mar-a-Lago vis­its, such as se­cu­rity, food and lodg­ing.

If only we knew that much about Trump’s other fi­nan­cial con­nec­tions. But he’d have to re­lease his tax re­turns, and he re­fused.

No other pres­i­dent had such a com­pli­cated web of busi­nesses, and no other pres­i­dent in mod­ern his­tory withheld his tax re­turns. The in­ter­na­tional scope of Trump’s hold­ings cre­ates tremen­dous po­ten­tial con­flicts of in­ter­est. We know, for in­stance, the Bank of China has been a large lender to Trump’s busi­nesses. Does he owe China some­thing in re­turn?

In ad­di­tion, Trump’s com­pa­nies have loans and mort­gages with Deutsche Bank AG, and that the U.S. Jus­tice Depart­ment re­cently closed one investigation into the bank, but we don’t know how Trump’s deal­ings with the bank will af­fect other in­ves­ti­ga­tions and reg­u­la­tions. We don’t know much about Trump’s per­sonal busi­ness ties to Rus­sia. Trump’s tax re­turns won’t an­swer ev­ery ques­tion, but they would dis­close key details re­gard­ing his in­vest­ments, part­ner­ships and busi­ness arms, whether he has for­eign bank ac­counts and trusts, and whether he pays taxes to for­eign gov­ern­ments. And we’d know how his sweep­ing tax re­form ideas would ben­e­fit him and his com­pa­nies.

Dur­ing the cam­paign, Trump said he’d re­lease his tax re­turns af­ter they were au­dited, though no law pre­vents their re­lease. On Sun­day, he im­plied the de­mand for the re­turns should have ended when he won the elec­tion.

The na­tion waits. Congress must in­sist Trump re­lease the re­turns be­fore it passes new tax laws.

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