Unlike his rivals, Donald Trump has no history in public office on which to judge his suitability for political leadership.
This has enabled the billionaire to attack politicians, who have to defend political records open for everyone to see, while touting his business record, which is not subject to a similar level of transparency.
His business interests are often private, and his required financial disclosure reports aren’t vetted for accuracy, leaving him free to make wild claims about his success.
Mr. Trump’s unusual position means the scrutiny that routinely accompanies running for president is all the more important in his case, starting with the release of his tax returns.
Yet Mr. Trump also has been the least transparent candidate. His GOP rivals have disclosed tax returns going back at least four years. Meanwhile, the real estate developer has stalled, puzzlingly declaring that his tax returns are “very beautiful” while offering laughable excuses for refusing to share them with the public.
Mr. Trump’s primary defense is that the Internal Revenue Service is auditing his tax submissions. This presents no obstacle to him releasing earlier returns. There is also nothing stopping Mr. Trump from disclosing his preliminary tax documents even while the government is reviewing them.
The differences pre- and post-audit could be illuminating. So could many other details. Maybe the returns would provide evidence that Mr. Trump’s business dealings are not generating as much profit as one might expect. Maybe there would be other surprises.
Mr. Trump claims tax returns do not show all that much. This argues for releasing more information, not less. Presidential candidates have in the past gone beyond releasing personal tax returns.
But if the story Mr. Trump has told voters is true, shouldn’t releasing information about his business dealings help him? He has made his business prowess central to his campaign. Along with his personal tax returns, he should release more hard information about the performance of his private ventures so voters can judge whether he is the business genius he claims to be.
— Washington Post