Do States have the authority to demand Tax Returns?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Rhonindk, May 4, 2019.

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Is it Constitutional for States to require Federal Tax Return disclosure?

  1. Yes.

    7 vote(s)
    31.8%
  2. No.

    7 vote(s)
    31.8%
  3. This will end up in SCOTUS

    5 vote(s)
    22.7%
  4. Don't know

    1 vote(s)
    4.5%
  5. Don't really care ...

    2 vote(s)
    9.1%
  1. Rhonindk macrumors 68040

    Rhonindk

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    sitting on a beach watching a DC simulation ...
    #1
    This has come up in the news lately: States passing rules that a Presidential candidate must disclose several years of tax returns in order to be placed on the ballot.

    That leads me to the question: Do States have that right?

    Like many I went Googling in an attempt to find an answer. Found a number of opinions but no clear cut answer. The closest I came to was Requirements to hold office. There have been a number of challenges over time that ended up in SCOTUS. In those cases it appears that ruling kept tightly to the Constitutional guidelines. Nothing I could find specific about Tax Documentation. Like most topics in the political arena, the unbiased answers are hard to come by. It does appear that there are some rather strict privacy laws attached to this.

    A couple of items that I ran across as I read on this topic:
    *snip*
    If the states wanted to instruct their Electoral College delegates, that’s a very different constitutional question than for Congress to require it, but is still constitutionally dubious. Powell v. McCormick and U.S. Term Limits v. Thornton make it clear that neither Congress nor the states can add to qualifications for members of Congress. This same rationale should apply to presidents.

    *snip*
    Other legal experts are also confident in the soundness of the tax-return maneuver. Laurence Tribe, a Harvard University law professor and frequent critic of the Trump administration, described Maryland’s bill as a “neutral, even-handed way” to allow voters to assess the “financial and ethical history” of would-be candidates. He also viewed its constitutional footing as more secure.
    “It’s not an interference with any federal prerogative, nor does it filter out in advance any set of presidential candidates who meet the Constitution’s age, residence, and other qualifications,” Tribe said.

    *snip*
    Not everyone is convinced that efforts to require the disclosure of tax returns are constitutional. Critics note that the U.S. Constitution already sets out qualifications to become president. They say it’s not up to states to add new ones.
    Specifically, Article Two of the Constitution establishes three requirements to win the White House: The president must be a “natural born citizen,” must be at least 35 years old, and must be a resident within the United States for 14 years.
    The U.S. Supreme Court has also ruled that states and the federal government cannot add to the qualifications of senators and congressional representatives beyond those outlined in the Constitution — something that could be extended to the president.

    *snip*
    As Stevens found in a later case on the same topic, states may be charged with administering federal elections, but they may not use that power to impose policy choices that the Constitution does not contain. Even beyond the historical precedent, the reason for this is obvious. If each state determines on its own who may be elected to federal office, the Congress would no longer be a truly federal legislature. It would revert instead to the confederal legislature created by the Articles of Confederation.

    https://newrepublic.com/article/147310/can-states-ban-trump-ballot-doesnt-release-tax-returns
    https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/...ntial-candidates-to-release-their-tax-returns
    https://www.robertreeveslaw.com/blog/candidates-tax-returns/
    https://www.cnn.com/2017/04/14/opin...sclosure-legal-tribe-painter-eisen/index.html
    https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/states-compel-presidential-candidates-release-tax-returns
    https://thefederalist.com/2017/03/1...-presidential-candidates-release-tax-returns/

    Comments, opinions,and factual knowledge is welcome.
     
  2. jkcerda macrumors 6502a

    jkcerda

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    #2
    they should all disclose their tax returns, if we need a law for that then so be it.
     
  3. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #3
    I don’t see the issue with this. States should be free to act as they please.
    --- Post Merged, May 4, 2019 ---
    Trump can appear on the ballot if he releases his taxes which is standard practice.
     
  4. Rhonindk thread starter macrumors 68040

    Rhonindk

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    #4
    I find it interesting all the focus on Presidential when Congressional is neither required nor mentioned. ;)
    --- Post Merged, May 4, 2019 ---
    That was the problem I quickly ran into when I was looking at "it has been done for XX years so ...". Whether the "legal expert" was for or against, they pretty much agreed that tradition has very little to do with the legality. I was also unable to find where this has been "standard" or "normal practice" at a State level.
     
  5. linuxcooldude macrumors 68020

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    #5
    Income taxes are Federal which are also covered under privacy laws.
     
  6. FrankieTDouglas macrumors 65816

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    Mar 10, 2005
    #6
    Is this the thread where people who typically espouse sweeping federal authority over the states, now suddenly be all for states' rights?
     
  7. Rhonindk thread starter macrumors 68040

    Rhonindk

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    #7
    I hope not :confused:

    My thought when I started this was along the lines of whether State's have the legal right to change Federal election rules. Demand "X" of the Presidential candidate if you want to be on "our" ballot.
     
  8. Peace macrumors Core

    Peace

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  9. appleisking macrumors 6502a

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    #9
    That’s cute. I’ll tell that to my next landlord, or if I ever want a house or car.
     
  10. Rogifan macrumors Core

    Rogifan

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2011
    #10
    So California wants to pass this because they don’t want Trump in the ballot.

    I’m all for presidential candidates having to release tax returns but congress should pass a law to require it; it shouldn’t be left up to individual states.
     
  11. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #11
    So Trump should release his taxes...
     
  12. chown33 macrumors 604

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    betwixt
    #12
    Technically, every ballot in every State that lists Presidential candidates actually lists the Electors for that candidate. Because that's how we choose a President in the USA: the Electoral College.

    I don't think the Constitution says anything about how States choose their Presidential Electors. It does say that each State legislature decides. Hypothetically, electors could be chosen by State legislatures, in the same way States used to elect Senators. Or it could be a lottery. Or pin the tail on the donkey.

    Some States don't even require that Electors actually vote for the Presidential candidate they represented on the ballot. See "faithless elector".

    The Constitution (as Amended) also says how Representatives and Senators shall be elected, but it's far less specific about choosing Presidential Electors, other than delegating it to State legislatures.
     
  13. Herdfan macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2011
    #13
    I see this as a slippery slope. The left went nuts over AZ I think it was wanted to require candidates to have to show a Birth Certificate to prove they are eligible under one of the actual requirements.

    Personally I would have wanted to see Obama's college application to see if he applied as a foreign student so maybe that should be a requirement as well.

    Thing is, if CA or any other state can do this, what can a Red State do to prevent a Dem from being on their ballot? This is a road we really don't want to go down.
     
  14. chown33 macrumors 604

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    #14
    Here's a thought experiment.

    States currently have the power to decide which Presidential candidates are printed on the general electin ballot. A typical requirement for independent candidates is a minimum number of signatures from registered voters on a petition. There may also be a filing fee and a deadline date. There may also be different requirements for candidates nominated by a party vs. independent (non-party) candidates.

    Each State decides for itself what its ballot access requirements will be.
    There is no nationwide minimum standard, as far as I know.

    For example, for an independent (non-party) candidate, Florida requires 1% of the total number of registered voters, which is estimated at around 120,000. Arkansas simply requires 1,000. That's a 120-to-1 difference.


    Given this latitude in how States decide whose name will be printed on the general election ballot, why would requiring a Tax Return be an unacceptably onerous burden?

    For the record, I'm not saying this particular requirement would or would not be a wise decision by a State. I'm only saying that given the current range of ballot access laws between different States, I don't see how a new constraint enacted by a State would necessarily be unconstitutional.


    Sources:
    https://ballotpedia.org/Ballot_access_for_presidential_candidates
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballot_access
     
  15. duffman9000 macrumors 68000

    duffman9000

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    #15
    Whatever guy. Maybe he should stop making excuses. If he had already done so the laughter would have been over.

    He has already telegraphed what the returns will show. He used loopholes to pay little to no taxes. Self made billionaire my ***.
     
  16. Zenithal, May 4, 2019
    Last edited: May 4, 2019

    Zenithal macrumors 604

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    #16
    I sincerely doubt he's a billionaire. That said, while disclosing returns isn't required, it's been a practice for 40 some odd years.
    --- Post Merged, May 4, 2019 ---
    From unauthorized disclosure. Forced disclosure is not unauthorized disclosure. Unless you're stating that the sitting POTUS is not of sound mind and his compliance would be illegal due to not being in control of his own facilities.

    Now before you complain about Maddow, what she did was illegal. However, due to how the law works and it being a highly contested public matter and a very, very public figure whose decisions affect millions, it's very unlikely a federal court would punish MSNBC if they were sued by Trump or the DoJ.
     
  17. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6

    ucfgrad93

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    Colorado
    #17
    States that try to do this will wind up in court.
     
  18. Zenithal macrumors 604

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    Sep 10, 2009
    #18
    On what grounds?
     
  19. linuxcooldude macrumors 68020

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    #19
    I think your talking about credit report, not income tax.
     
  20. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6

    ucfgrad93

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    #20
    The Constitution lists as the only requirements to become President as being 35 years old and an natural born citizen. States can't add requirements, which requiring to see tax returns in order to be on the ballot would do.
     
  21. linuxcooldude macrumors 68020

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    #21
    Call it what you want. States don't have control over Federal law and how it is enforced. The government would probably step in if this was implimented.
     
  22. Zenithal, May 4, 2019
    Last edited: May 4, 2019

    Zenithal macrumors 604

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    #22
    It does indeed state that. However, as I recall, the 2008 elections were a bit muddy because John McCain wasn't a natural born citizen within the borders of the United States. Indeed, he was born in Panama. For the 2016 elections, Ted Cruz, jokingly referred to as the Zodiac Killer, was born in Canada. The issue then was what the word "natural born" meant, as both men were born to American citizens. However, despite being born in different countries outside the jurisdiction and border of the United States, both men were allowed to run. Cruz was neither born on a military base nor at an embassy.

    You could argue that McCain was born on a naval station, which may very well be considered a sovereign US territory. Except the law excludes military bases from being considered as sovereign land. The only land that can be considered sovereign under United States law is our embassies. Consulates aren't counted.

    In addition, for this election cycle, the DNC has included measures candidates must meet or else they're disqualified. This is in addition to what the US Constitute deems the bare minimum, and thus isn't recorded on the historic document. If so, what gives the DNC the right to include such measures and why hasn't it been tied up in court? Further more, there is no precedence to make a quick judgement on this and it would be tied up in court for months if not years. There is no real legal justification to sway the court in Trump's favor, especially when the administration has trampled over the constitution. What would give the current POTUS or the DoJ any justification to hold up the law to the terms in the constitution when they themselves can't abide by them?

    In addition, what happened to states rights? There is no federal law requiring all states to list all candidates. The federal government could set forth a rule such as that, however, states can sue and tie that up in the courts. In addition, going back to the Constitution, the language is incredibly clear and curt. Those born in the United States can become president provided they are of age, 35, and have lived in the United States for 14 years to the run-up of election.


    That said, the states that have and do plan on enacting such a policy will willingly tie it up in the court system, and at the very least don't cause for concern because their electorate count do not prove to be a hindrance to the current POTUS's potential and unconfirmed 2nd term. In fact, they wouldn't prove to be a hindrance to any GOP candidate. If POTUS carried the heartland in 2020, he'd still win in electoral college votes. He'd lose the popular vote. But it wouldn't matter, the electoral votes that matter the most.


    Now with that said, it's abundantly clear the Constitutions exact wordage doesn't quite apply because it's been muddied over the past several decades by both parties, and an actual federal statute must be outlined within applicable law for it to have remotely any merit at this point.

    The treatment of migrants, particularly their children, doesn't fit within our constitution and goes against any Christian teaching, but it's still being done. It isn't inherently legal nor illegal.
    --- Post Merged, May 4, 2019 ---
    It's been implemented weeks ago. I haven't read anything yet. I also implore you to list any specific statutes. If it were so "illegal" then I ask why Trump, who's very litigation happy, didn't sue the pants off MSNBC and Maddow, in a slam dunk case?
     
  23. appleisking macrumors 6502a

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    #23
    Nope. You need to prove income for any of the above.
     
  24. linuxcooldude macrumors 68020

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    #24
    Ive never had to supply my tax returns for renting apartments, house mortgage or car loans.
     
  25. Zenithal macrumors 604

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