On Thursday, September 29, 2016, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden spoke with Oregon Law students today about his bill, the Presidential Tax Transparency Act, to require presidential candidates to release their recent tax returns. Wyden is the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee and a 1974 graduate of the University of Oregon School of Law.
“For four decades, presidential candidates have willingly disclosed their tax returns in the interest of public trust and transparency. Yet, for the first time in recent history, a nominee has not only refused this public trust, but has mocked it. In keeping with our American ideals of a well-informed electorate, the Presidential Tax Transparency Act seeks to formalize the strong tradition of making tax returns public,” said Wyden.
The Act requires that presidential candidates release the previous three years of tax returns to the Federal Election Commission within fifteen days of receiving their party’s nomination. In the event that a candidate would refuse to release their tax returns, the Treasury Secretary would provide the returns directly to the Federal Election Commission to be publicly released.
Students attending the town hall-style session asked many questions throughout the one-hour event. A theme of questions focused on transparency requirements for presidential candidates and the limits of financial disclosure.
“There are certain core principles where you weigh public right to know and privacy,” said Wyden. “In this context, it’s never too late to work for transparency and good government. This [Act] is the right thing to do."
The senator was introduced by Susan Gary, professor of tax law and member of the Board of Trustees. In making the introduction, Gary said, “The Wall Street Journal said Senator Wyden is best ‘as a wonk, a workhorse, a doer’ and we know he is also a very proud Duck.”