Tax Cheeto

As anyone who has been following this year’s presidential race knows, there are two main candidates for the office, and one of them has refused to release his federal tax records.

This despite a decades-long tradition of presidential candidates releasing the information so that voters might, you know, make an informed decision about who to vote for.

That candidate is known in some quarters as the Cheeto Jesus, and at last reckoning, he has still refused to release his recent federal IRS tax records. Donald Trump has claimed that people don’t care, and has also claimed that releasing them would open the door to questions best left unasked.

It is surreal in the extreme that Trump is getting away with this degree of hands-off media coverage of his taxes and financial entanglements, which a Newsweek story from last week found to be quite substantial and problematic from a national-security perspective.

Trump has claimed that he’s not allowed to release his tax returns because he’s under audit by the IRS, a position that some have referred to as “a lie.”

And U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman has just called him out on it.

Last week, the Marin County congressman introduced a bill designed to close the so-called liar’s loophole whereby candidates can lie about whether they are being audited in order to lie about why they are not releasing their returns.

Under current law, the IRS isn’t allowed to tell the public whether a presidential candidate, or anyone else for that matter, is being audited—but that restriction does not restrain a candidate from making news of one’s audit a matter of the public record, as mega-billions liberal Warren Buffett recently and quite humorously noted during a post-convention appearance with Hillary Clinton.

Buffett is himself under audit, and gave a presentation to Clinton supporters where he dismissed Trump’s malarkey claim that he was forbidden to release his returns: an audit does not restrict a candidates’ ability to release tax returns for the years that are being investigated by the IRS, despite Trump’s claims to the contrary.

In a statement, Huffman rightly notes that citizens have a right to evaluate candidates’ tax history, if for no other reason than to be “fully informed about the candidates financial ties.” He goes on to note that “the current system allows candidates to provide what could be a trumped-up excuse for hiding their returns by claiming a pending IRS audit, whether or not that is actually happening.” That’s right. Trumped-up.

Huffman’s bill would close the liar’s loophole by “requiring the IRS to disclose whether a presidential candidate is subject to any pending tax audits. The stakes of a presidential election are too high to allow a candidate to hide from disclosing their tax returns by giving an excuse that cannot even be verified under current law.”

The bill has a whole pile of Democratic co-sponsors, including St. Helena U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson—but nary a Republican sponsor is to be