Presidential Tax Returns

Coffee Talk is a regular feature of the Contra Costa Coffee TalkLawyer magazine. We ask a short question related to an upcoming theme and responses are then published in the Contra Costa Lawyer magazine.

This month we ask,

“What is the benefit the public receives when presidential candidates make their tax returns public?”

“There are various benefits the public receives when a presidential candidate releases his/her tax returns. Specifically, it assists the public to understand where a candidate has vested financial interests. If this is understood, a candidate’s statements during a campaign can be assessed accordingly, and the public can determine if the candidate’s financial interests are potentially the actual basis for some of their statements or positions on policy. Sadly, much of the public is not willing to do such research and relies on the media to relay the information as they prefer it is communicated.”
Lisa J. Mendes, Esq., Mendes Law PC

“Any benefit the public receives when a presidential candidate makes their tax returns public is unknown until such returns are reviewed. Everyone is entitled to confidentiality of their tax returns, even presidential candidates. No matter what Donald Trump’s tax returns would disclose, I would not have voted for him, because I don’t believe he is qualified for the office (and I’m a Democrat), but I do not fault him for non-disclosure of his tax returns. As it turns out, there appears to be much more serious stuff with which to fault him. His lies, conflicts of interest, disrespect of others, and his efforts to undo all the good things accomplished by Obama. Let’s all be sure to go see Al Gore’s new movie and keep America safe and beautiful.”
Joel Zebrack, Attorney / Mediator

“By having to make public one’s tax returns, a public official makes further known to what extent he/she acts out of self-interest. As to the office-holder in question, the extreme degree of his self-interest already has been revealed in myriad other ways. However, seeing the slim percentage (if any) of his gross income which actually is paid in taxes should be useful to lawmakers when implementing “tax reform” and “closing loopholes” as long as those legislators follow their mandates to serve their constituents rather than exercise blind loyalty to the aforesaid office-holder.”
Susan L. Aglietti, Counselor at Law

“Three big benefits come to mind. First, when we understand the president’s sources of income and financial entanglements, we illuminate potential conflicts of interest. Second, we better understand his self-interest in policy changes he may pursue. For the third reason I will defer to Richard Nixon who said, ‘People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook.’ ”
Michael F. Peri, Attorney at Law