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Trump Is Suing Over A California Law That Would Force Him To Disclose His Tax Returns To Be On The Ballot

Trump and the Republican National Committee are arguing that California can't force candidates to disclose their tax returns in order to appear on the presidential primary ballot.

Posted on August 6, 2019, at 2:04 p.m. ET

Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty Images

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee filed lawsuits Tuesday challenging a California law that would require Trump to release his tax returns in order to appear on the state's presidential primary ballot.

The California law, SB27, requires any presidential candidate who wants to appear on the primary ballot to submit copies of all income tax returns they filed with the IRS over the past five years. The California secretary of state would then release those returns to the public, with redactions for sensitive information such as Social Security numbers and medical information.

Trump, who has refused to release his tax returns, is arguing that the law goes beyond what the Constitution requires in order to qualify as a presidential candidate, that it violates the First Amendment and is rooted in efforts to retaliate against Trump personally, and that it exceeds what federal law requires presidential candidates to disclose in terms of their finances.

In a separate lawsuit, the RNC raised some of the same arguments and also accused the state of infringing on the rights of Republican voters to express their political preferences in the primary election by imposing additional burdens on candidates to appear on the ballot. Both cases were filed in federal district court in Sacramento.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who signed SB27 into law July 30, released a statement through his office: "There’s an easy fix for the President. He should release his tax returns as he promised during the campaign and follow the precedent of every president since 1973." A spokesperson for California Attorney General Xavier Becerra declined to comment.

Trump's refusal to release his tax returns — a decision that broke with the practices of recent presidents and presidential candidates — spurred his opponents to look for other ways to force the information about his finances and business practices into the public eye. House Democrats asked for copies of Trump's tax returns from the IRS and were rebuffed; they're now suing in federal court in Washington, DC, to get the documents.

In New York, state officials recently passed a law that would allow Congress to ask for copies of the president's state tax returns once it had tried to go through the IRS. Trump filed a lawsuit, also in federal court in Washington, contesting that law and seeking to block House Democrats from invoking it.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.