How Many Years of Tax Returns Have Presidential Candidates Released in the Past?—PICTURES

July 19, 2012, 2 a.m.

Al­though the U.S. pres­id­ent is one of the most vis­ible people in the coun­try, the pres­id­ent’s fin­ances have of­ten been closely guarded. But after Richard Nix­on’s vice pres­id­ent, Spiro Ag­new, pleaded no con­test in 1973 to tax eva­sion, the pub­lic be­came in­creas­ingly in­ter­ested in fin­an­cial dis­clos­ures from the pres­id­ent’s of­fice. 

Since the 1976 elec­tion, pres­id­en­tial can­did­ates have re­leased at least one year of tax re­turns. After win­ning that elec­tion, Jimmy Carter then set the pre­ced­ent for all sit­ting pres­id­ents and vice pres­id­ents to re­lease their re­turns each year. Since 1984, the stand­ard for chal­lengers to an in­cum­bent pres­id­ent has been to dis­close at least two years of re­turns, if not sig­ni­fic­antly more.

Pre­sumptive Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­en­tial nom­in­ee Mitt Rom­ney has said he will meet this two-year stand­ard. But 2008 Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­en­tial nom­in­ee John Mc­Cain is the only oth­er can­did­ate to re­lease just two years of re­turns in the last 34 years. Bob Dole, the Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­en­tial nom­in­ee in 1996, set the tax-re­lease re­cord, dis­clos­ing 29 years of re­turns dur­ing his run for the White House.