TaxReturnCurrencyPresidential candidates would have to release five years’ worth of income tax returns before they could appear on the ballot in Illinois under a measure sponsored by Senator Daniel Biss than advanced out of a Senate committee on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 982 also would apply to candidates for vice president. Under the legislation, candidates who don’t comply at least five days before certification of the ballot for the general election would not appear on the ballot.

“Unfortunately, right now as a nation we are learning what happens when we elect a president without demanding to know more about his or her business entanglements,” said Biss, an Evanston Democrat. “This legislation would enable Illinois voters to have better information about the financial interests of presidential and vice presidential candidates so they may make the best possible decisions at the polls.”

Federal law requires presidential candidates to complete financial disclosure forms that include information about income, property, liabilities, investments and certain financial interests of family members, but candidates are not required to release tax returns. Until 2016, major-party candidates for president voluntarily had released their returns since the Ford administration in an effort to appear transparent with voters.

Biss said the goal of the legislation isn’t to determine if a candidate is qualified to run for office; the goal is to ensure voters are able to make informed decisions.

“This is not about red states or blue states. I think Democrats and Republicans alike would agree that this kind of transparency is in the public’s best interest,” Biss said.

The measure passed 9-4 in the Senate’s Executive Committee Wednesday.

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