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North Carolina considering bill that could have kept Trump off the state’s ballot in 2016

North Carolina considering legislation that would require candidates running for president to provide their tax returns for the five previous years. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

A state senator in North Carolina has proposed a bill that would require any candidate for president in the state to release his or her tax returns before being placed on the ballot.

Sen. Jay Chaudhuri, a Democrat from Raleigh, filed the legislation on Tuesday, and he made it clear the proposal was inspired by President Donald Trump, who refused during the 2016 presidential campaign to release his past tax returns.

“I filed the T.R.U.M.P. Act because I believe every presidential candidate, including Donald Trump, should disclose their tax returns,” Chaudhuri told the Raleigh-based News & Observer.

The bill is titled the “Tax Returns Uniformly Made Public Act,” or TRUMP Act.

According to the bill’s text, “The name of a candidate for President or Vice President shall appear on the general election ballot only if no later than 70 days before the date of the general election the candidate has filed with the State Board of Elections a copy of the candidate’s federal income tax returns for the five years preceding the year of the general election and provided written consent, in a form prescribed by the State Board of Elections, for the public disclosure of the candidate’s federal income tax returns required by this subsection.”

The TRUMP Act would also require the North Carolina State Board of Elections to make the tax returns publicly available on its website within seven days of receiving the filing, effectively forcing a candidate for president wanting his or her name on the ballot in North Carolina to release past tax returns to the entire nation.

Chaudhuri told the News & Observer there are three reasons he introduced the legislation.

“I did so for three reasons,” said Chaudhuri. “First, every major party presidential candidate for the last 40 years has made his or her tax returns public. Second, such disclosures allow the public to know whether these candidates have conflicts of interest. For example, does Donald Trump have business dealings with Russia? Finally, this bill has a lot of support—by a majority of North Carolinians and members of both parties, including Republican Congressman Walter Jones of North Carolina.”

On Wednesday, the bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Rules and Operations.

According to the far-left news organization ThinkProgress, legislators in 26 other states have introduced similar legislation, although the details vary from state to state.

In New Jersey, the state legislature already approved legislation that would force all general election candidates to release their tax returns, but Republican Gov. Chris Christie is expected to veto the legislation.

Trump has repeatedly said he plans to release his tax returns to the public once an audit being conducted by the IRS is complete. There is no law preventing Trump from releasing the returns while he’s being audited.

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