Trump’s Taxes Are Fair Game. Just Ask Warren Harding.Roundup
tags: taxes, Warren Harding, Trump, Teapot Dome
Stephen Mihm is a Bloomberg Opinion Columnist.
If Democrats in Congress succeed in their quest to get Donald Trump to cough up his tax returns, they’ll have another Republican president to thank: Warren G. Harding.
A century ago, the Teapot Dome corruption scandal engulfed Harding’s administration, spurring Congress to pass legislation that finally reclaimed its right to review private tax returns. It was a solid law, and remains so today: The legislative branch has the power to tax and spend, and the review of personal tax returns falls well within its rights and obligations.
The battle over the privacy of returns is as old as the income tax itself. The nation’s first such levy originated during the Civil War, and anyone could get the information. In fact, newspapers regularly published the amounts paid by the wealthy — a radical form of transparency that critics said went too far.
Congress prohibited the practice in 1870, and the income tax itself was rolled back not long afterward. In 1894, as part of a drive to reinstate the tax, Congress made the unauthorized disclosure of tax returns a misdemeanor, further strengthening privacy protections. But the Supreme Court soon ruled the tax unconstitutional, making the point moot.
comments powered by Disqus
- Trump administration says joint UNC, Duke Middle East Studies program portrays Islam too positively
- What White Kids Learn About Race in School
- Frederick Douglass photos smashed stereotypes. Could Elizabeth Warren selfies do the same?
- Chronicling New York’s Muslim History
- New Documents Illuminate The University of Texas’s Secret Strategy to Keep Out Black Students
- Women Scientists Were Written Out of History. It’s Margaret Rossiter’s Lifelong Mission to Fix That
- Allen C. Guelzo Reviews Sidney Blumenthal's Latest Installment of His Biography of Lincoln
- What Reconstruction-Era Laws Can Teach Our Democracy: The NY Times Reviews Eric Foner's Latest Book
- Should historians read their own book?
- Cokie Roberts, Pioneering Journalist Who Helped Shape NPR, Dies At 75