Require the Release of Taxes to Run for President in Illinois

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Since the early 1970s it's been a tradition in the United States that the presidential candidates release their tax returns.  While this serves a number of purposes, primarily it allows the American people insight into the "financial life" of someone who might be the most powerful politician in the country.  This view into their financial history allows Americans to see how a candidate conducted themselves financially, where they may have conflicts of interest, and even if they've "paid their fair share".  Traditionally this has been a voluntary part of the traditions surrounding a run for President.  In the same way we end the oath of office with "So Help Me God", we also expect our presidential candidates to offer us insight into their finances. It is simply something that "is done".

The election of 2016 marked the first time in nearly half a century in which a presidential candidate did not release their tax returns.  While the President certainly broke no law when he refused to disclose his finances, it sets a dangerous precedent and breaks with established tradition.  As a result it seems we can no longer trust the unspoken traditions of elections past.  If we, the people, expect something of our politicians we need to codify it in the laws and make it a requirement, not merely a suggestion.  It is with that in mind that I'd like to request your support of the bills before the Illinois State Legislature: HB 0780 and SB 0982.

Both bills would amend the Illinois Statutes on Elections and require Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates to release, at minimum, five years of tax returns before they can be listed on the ballot in Illinois.  As one of the largest electoral "pots" in the country, Illinois would represent a significant loss to any candidate who was unwilling to release their taxes.  While some might argue that partisan candidates might avoid the state due to "entrenched political machines", I would argue that the state might be the first of many states to require such disclosures.  Companion bills are already underway in other states, and I see no reason why Illinois shouldn't join them.

Please let both houses of the Illinois Legislature and Governor Rauner know: we care about our President's taxes.  

 



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