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Trump In 1999: I Probably Wouldn't Have A Problem Releasing My Tax Returns If I Ran

"They're very big. They're very complex. But I would probably have — I probably wouldn't have a problem with doing it."

Posted on March 4, 2016, at 3:29 p.m. ET

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Donald Trump says he won't release his tax returns — because he's being audited.

During his 1999 flirtation with running on the Reform Party ticket, however, Trump actually took a much different tone, saying he'd have no problem releasing his tax returns.

Trump, speaking with MSNBC's Chris Matthews at an event in November of that year was asked about the tax returns. (The context was the problems Democratic vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro encountered in 1984 releasing the tax returns of her husband, real estate developer John Zaccaro.)

Trump said his life was an open book and he wouldn't have a problem releasing his tax returns.

"You know, it's something I haven't even thought of, but I certainly, I guess, as I get closer to the decision, which I'll probably make in February, it's something I will be thinking of," said Trump. "They're very big. They're very complex. But I would probably have — I probably wouldn't have a problem with doing it."

In the interview, Trump also noted he has "great casinos." He told Matthews that, "When I go through in Atlantic City, where I have great casinos that a lot of the folks here go to all the time, because it's right down there." Since then, Atlantic City has struggled, and Trump has largely exited.

Former Republican nominee Mitt Romney has called for Trump to release his tax returns.

"He doesn't want to release his tax returns under any circumstances, I don't believe he ever will," Romney said on With All Due Respect on Thursday.

Romney has aggressively pushed the issue, arguing their might be a bombshell in Trump's tax returns. Ted Cruz, meanwhile, has said he believes Trump's taxes might show ties to the mafia.

Trump has claimed he won't release his taxes because he's being audited by the Internal Revenue Service though tax experts say there's nothing about the audit that keeps him from releasing his records.

Here's the transcript of the exchange:

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you — one of the humiliations of running for the presidency and we saw this with Geraldine Ferraro from New York — her husband's a real estate developed -- you've got to show your tax returns. You've got to come out with a full financial statement. People in real estate don't normally like to do that. Are you ready to do that kind of, you know, show yourself kind of disclosure?

TRUMP: You know, one of the things about me, I've been an open book. I've been out there for 20 years — longer than 20 years. And I think everyone knows who I am, what I am, and they like me, they hate me, they somewhere in the middle. The fact is, I've really been an open book. When I go through in Atlantic City, where I have great casinos that a lot of the folks here go to all the time, because it's right down there.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Right. It's nearby.

TRUMP: But I do — I have great casinos. And we have a thing called the Casino Control Commission. These folks that are on the commission — the commissioners have done an unbelievable job in keeping the mob out; keeping things clean; making sure taxes are paid — everything else. It is an unbelieve — if I write a check to you, they'll get to see a copy of that check. If I write a check...

MATTHEWS: But when you run for president, will you release your income tax returns?

TRUMP: You know, it's something I haven't even thought of, but I certainly, I guess, as I get closer to the decision, which I'll probably make in February, it's something I will be thinking of. They're very big. They're very complex. But I would probably have — I probably wouldn't have a problem with doing it.

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