Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Trump’s Wrong, But Not Much: Slim Majority Want His Tax Returns

  • Roughly half in poll say tax return issue important to them
  • Survey’s investors bullish on stock market for next six months

As the annual deadline approaches for Americans to file their taxes, views about whether President Donald Trump should be required to release his own returns are mixed, according to a Bloomberg/Morning Consult national poll.

Slightly more than half of registered voters -- 53 percent -- say the Republican president should be forced to release his returns. But fewer, 51 percent, say such disclosure is either very or somewhat important to them. And still fewer, just 45 percent, said Trump’s tax returns are relevant to his ability to do his job.

“As we’ve seen in past polling, voters are mostly split along party lines on the question of Trump’s tax returns,” said Kyle Dropp, co-founder and chief research officer at Morning Consult, a Washington-based media and technology company. “Still, fewer than half say the tax returns issue is relevant to his ability to serve as president.”

Read the poll questions and methodology here.

Under Audit

Trump has departed from roughly 40 years of tradition for major-party presidential nominees by not making his returns public, saying his lawyers advised him not to release them while he’s under audit. As president, his audits may continue -- Trump is subject to administrative procedures by the Internal Revenue Service that call for mandatory examinations of the chief executive’s tax returns. There’s no law or rule that prevents people under audit from making their returns public.

During a news conference on Jan. 11, Trump said Americans didn’t care about his tax returns. “You know, the only one that cares about my tax returns are the reporters,” he said. “They’re the only ones who ask.”

Democrats have repeatedly called on Trump to release his tax returns, arguing they should be reviewed for links to foreign nations and to examine how he could potentially benefit from a tax overhaul plan. Representative Bill Pascrell of New Jersey sought to force the issue by pushing a measure to make the House Ways and Means Committee use its authority to scrutinize those returns. The measure was rebuffed by Republicans and his effort stands little chance of success while the GOP controls the chamber, but the congressman has vowed not to give up.

Two White House spokeswomen didn’t respond to emailed requests for comment.

In response to questions last month about whether Trump would release his 2016 tax returns, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the president would “cross that bridge when it comes to it.”

Protests Planned

So far, the only tax documents of Trump’s that have been made public were leaked to the media -- state tax returns from 1995 that showed a $916 million loss were given to the New York Times last October, and two pages of Trump’s 2005 federal income tax return were broadcast on MSNBC last month. The 2005 document showed he made almost $153 million and paid $38.4 million in federal taxes that year.

Protesters are planning marches nationwide on April 15 –- the traditional deadline for returns to be filed -- to demand Trump’s returns. (This year’s deadline is actually April 18 because April 15 is a Saturday, and Monday, April 17, is a local holiday in Washington.)

March organizers include members of groups such as the National Working Families Party and the nonprofit Indivisible Project. More than 1 million people have signed a public petition posted on the White House’s website calling for Trump to “immediately release” his full tax returns. The site allows people who want the administration to take action on particular issues to create their own petitions.

The Bloomberg/Morning Consult online survey was conducted April 4-5 using a nationally representative opt-in panel of 2,353 registered voters, including 774 with at least $50,000 invested in the stock market. The margin of error is plus or minus 2 percentage points on the full sample, and plus or minus 3.6 percentage points for investors.

Market Outlook

The poll also asked about voters’ economic outlook and expectations for the stock market. Almost half –- 46 percent -– of investors with at least $50,000 in equities say they expect the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index to be higher six months from now, while 17 percent say it will decrease and 23 percent expect it to stay about the same.

U.S. stocks had rallied since Trump’s election, with the S&P 500 reaching a record high in March, buoyed in part by the expectation of corporate tax cuts. The index has tempered some of its gains in part amid expectations that a tax overhaul could take longer than expected.

A third of poll respondents with at least $50,000 invested say they think the current state of the stock market is mostly a result of Trump’s economic policies, while 31 percent say it can be attributed to former President Barack Obama’s decisions. A quarter say neither man deserves credit for the more than 5 percent gain so far this year in the S&P 500 Index.

— With assistance by Sahil Kapur

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