I was looking at President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s federal income tax return from 1937 just now. It’s a quaint historical document. Roosevelt is the first president to my knowledge for which we have income tax returns. He didn’t release them during his presidency, but they were made available through his presidential library later, 25-years worth of them. President Truman released his returns during his presidency, as did Nixon, Ford (summary), Carter, Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Cheney, George W. Bush, Biden and Obama (years 2000-2016).
Add to that the tax returns of presidential candidates Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton (16 year worth), Cruz, Fiorina, Kaine, Kasich, Pence, Rubio, Sanders, Stern, Romney, Ryan, Gingrich, Santorum, McCain and Palin, to name some readily available ones.
Much was said about Donald Trump’s refusal to release tax returns as a candidate, despite a strong precedent. Will Trump now follow the presidential precedent to release tax returns? Particularly for a president with extensive financial holdings, it would seem important for the public to know whether their leader is working for them or for himself. As NPR’s Peter Overby said: Donald Trump brings “to the White House a unique potential for conflicts of interest.”
- Presidential Tax Returns – Tax History Project