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CONTRIBUTORS

OPED DePasquale: Why won't Trump release tax returns?

Eugene DePasquale
Guest-Column

As a candidate for president, there are certain things that are expected of you. This includes releasing your tax returns which has been a standard practice for every candidate going back almost 40 years.

In this file photo, state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale meets with The York Dispatch editorial board at the Dispatch offices in West Manchester Township on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015. (Dawn J. Sagert - dsagert@yorkdispatch.com)

As the auditor general of Pennsylvania, it’s important for me to be open and transparent. I was the first legislator in 2007 to post my expenses online when I served in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and I was the first statewide elected official to also do the same when I was sworn in as Auditor General. It’s certainly critical that anyone running for the most powerful job in the world, the President of the United States, do the exact same.

So why hasn’t Donald Trump released his returns? The only logical reason at this point for his continued refusal to do so is the undeniable implication that he is hiding something.

Trump likes to point to the fact that he released his personal finance disclosure form, but this is merely a routine protocol that is legally required for anyone who runs for president. It is neither a replacement, nor an excuse for not releasing one's tax returns.

So what exactly is Trump hiding? Could he be not as rich as he claims? Is he inflating his charitable donations? Is he paying a lower tax rate than struggling American families? These are simple questions he owes the American people answers on.

Trump claims to be worth $10 billion dollars. Yet without seeing his returns we can only take him on his word, which he has proven is no beacon of truth. His excuse of an IRS audit has been written off by experts from the beginning, and has no bearing on his ability to release his returns. After refusing so many times, it is clear at this point that it is a calculated decision that Trump, and his campaign have decided to make. In doing so, he is doing a disservice to his supporters, and further alienating those who question his tactics and motives.

In reality, there is no logical explanation for him to withhold this information. He has also been on the record vowing to release them in the past. In 2011 he indicated he would release them if President Obama released his birth certificate, and in 2015, he assured the American public he would release them if he made a run for president. Yet now that he is the Republican nominee he has eaten his words.

We simply cannot trust someone to lead our country and make important economic decisions that impact our children’s future that operates under a veil of secrecy, deception and blatant dishonesty. Yet this is what Trump brings to the table.

Republicans and Democrats have called on him repeatedly to release his tax returns and he continues to refuse, giving one lame excuse after another. Even his supporters have publicly condemned him for doing so. Hillary Clinton has gone above and beyond what is asked and released 38 years of tax returns and even has a website where voters can go to view her effective tax rate. Trump on the other hand, continues to refuse. It speaks a lot about character, and honestly, ability to listen to the American public. If he cannot be trusted with his own financial dealings, he should not be trusted with the economic livelihood of the American public.

— Eugene DePasquale is the auditor general of Pennsylvania.