All presidential candidates — regardless of political party — must submit five years’ worth of tax returns in order to be eligible for California’s presidential primary ballot in March, according to a new state law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday.
Named the Presidential Tax Transparency and Accountability Act, the law doesn’t directly single out President Donald Trump but is particularly significant given Trump’s consistent refusal to disclose his tax returns.
“These are extraordinary times and states have a legal and moral duty to do everything in their power to ensure leaders seeking the highest offices meet minimal standards, and to restore public confidence,” Newsom, a Democrat, said in a statement. “The disclosure required by this bill will shed light on conflicts of interest, self-dealing, or influence from domestic and foreign business interest.”
Lawmakers across the U.S. have attempted to circumvent Trump and get his returns into the public record, but past efforts haven’t yet been successful. Last week, Trump filed a lawsuit against the House of Representatives’ Ways and Means Committee, as well as New York’s attorney general and state tax commissioner, to preemptively block the release of his tax returns that would’ve been made accessible due to a bill signed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this month.
While it’s likely that Trump will attempt to rebuff the new California law in court, the president could potentially dodge the legislation as a write-in candidate, according to the Los Angeles Times. The law also doesn’t necessarily extend to the statewide general election ballot in November 2020, the paper reported.
California’s new law also extends to the state’s gubernatorial candidates, who will need to release their returns in 2024 ahead of the statewide primary.