Bill Would Require Release of Tax Returns for New Hampshire Primary Candidates

Jan 22, 2019

Donald Trump filed candidate papers with Secretary of State Bill Gardner ahead of the 2016 New Hampshire Primary.
Credit Allegra Boverman/NHPR

Lawmakers in Concord are again considering legislation that would require presidential candidates running in New Hampshire’s primary to release five years of income tax returns.

The bill is sponsored by two Seacoast Democrats, including David Meuse, who told the House Election Law Committee on Tuesday that voters would benefit from increased transparency.

“One of the things that I think we have an opportunity to do here in New Hampshire isn’t just to be first in the nation, but it is also to be first when it comes to transparency,” said Meuse.

During the hearing, lawmakers questioned whether the legislation could face legal challenges as it would add additional criteria to who can run for president beyond what is outlined in the U.S. Constitution.

Other states have mulled similar legislation in the wake of the 2016 election, when then-candidate Donald Trump declined to release his income tax returns.

Lawmakers in Concord shot down similar bills introduced in 2018.

“If we start putting additional requirements on a candidate running for office, we really start going down a slippery slope of encroaching on the constitutional requirements, but also what the New Hampshire Primary is all about,” said Dave Scanlan, Deputy Secretary of State, who testified in opposition to the bill.

“What’s next, do we start requiring medical records, do we start looking at religious affiliations, do we want psychiatric records? The list could be endless,” said Scanlan.

In 2011, lawmakers shot down a bill requiring candidates to provide a copy of their birth certificate. The so-called “Birther Bill” was in response to a debunked conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama was born outside of the United States.