On Wednesday afternoon, presidential hopeful and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand released her tax returns, becoming the first 2020 candidate to do so. Per The Hill, this might be news for the campaign trail, but it's business as usual for Gillibrand: she's made her returns public on an annual basis for several years. Still, Gillibrand's release serves as a thrown gauntlet to all other presidential candidates to do the same — including one candidate on the other side of the aisle.
Gillibrand's tax returns reveal that she earned an approximate $218,000 in 2018. This came largely from her $167,000 senator salary and a $50,000 book deal, per The Hill. Gillibrand's husband, a venture capitalist named John Gillibrand, did not report net income for 2018, according to Vox.
Following the release of her tax returns, Gillibrand offered a call to action to her followers on Twitter, encouraging them to sign a petition demanding all Democratic candidates release their tax returns as well. The intro to Gillibrand's petition reads:
Only a candidate who is fully transparent and accountable to the American people will be able to defeat Donald Trump in 2020. That’s why I have posted my tax returns from the last 12 years, and I’m calling on every candidate in the Democratic field to follow my lead and release theirs, too. If you want to restore integrity back to the White House, add your name now to stand with me in demanding transparency from every Democratic candidate.
While on CNN's New Day on Wednesday, Gillibrand said, "I think transparency and accountability is so important in government ... And I think the American people have a right to know, particularly people who are running for president and are president today, who has not disclosed his tax returns." Gillibrand added, "It allows people to know you're working for them and nobody else."
It's worth noting that both Gillibrand and Sen. Elizabeth Warren have released their tax returns each year for the last decade, according to Vox — though Warren has yet to release her returns from 2018. Additionally, Bernie Sanders recently confirmed that he planned to release the last 10 years of his tax returns, but he hasn't specified when that will take place.
During a CNN Town Hall in February, Sanders explained, "It just was a mechanical issue. We don't have accountants at home. My wife does most of it and we will get that stuff out." Sanders added, "They're very boring tax returns."
Of course, there's one 2020 candidate whose tax returns in particular have been of interest for years: Trump, who broke with tradition in 2016 by refusing to release his tax returns as the Republican candidate for president. Trump has continued to refuse to release them, despite increased pressure from Democrats in recent months.
In January 2017, after his inauguration, Trump said at a news conference, “The only one that cares about my tax returns are the reporters." He continued, “I won. I became president. I mean, I don’t think [the American people] care at all.” That wasn't true at the time, according to a Pew Research Center survey which showed the six out of 10 Americans did want him to release them — but since then, the sentiment seems to have decreased slightly.
According to a Politico/Morning Consult poll, only 50 percent of voters said Trump's tax returns should be a priority for Congress. POTUS has made no indication that he intends to release his tax returns for his second "run" for president.