Most Americans still want President Trump to release his tax returns

July 09, 2020, 3:19 PM UTC

Most Americans still want the nation’s most prominent tax filer, President Donald Trump, to release his tax returns, according to the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, which was conducted before the Supreme Court ruling on presidential financial records.

Trump was the only major party presidential candidate since 1976 not to release his returns during his first presidential run—and that refusal brought the question to the Supreme Court. Democrats in Congress and the New York prosecutor have subpoenaed the president’s financial records, and Trump is fighting those subpoenas, arguing that Congress has overstepped its Constitutional authority, and that presidents should be immune to state investigations while they are in office.  

On Thursday, the Supreme Court sent a case on whether Congress can subpoena the financial records of a sitting US president back to the lower courts. This effectively means that regardless of the ultimate decision, Congress will likely not see President Trump's financial documents before the 2020 presidential election. 

In the poll, Americans were not asked directly about the Court case, but about the president releasing his tax returns. By about five to three, the public still wants to see them, though the margin was greater when the Economist/YouGov Poll first asked this before the 2016 election. Then nearly half of Republicans wanted then-candidate Trump to release his returns. Democrats and Independents changed little on this question.  

The president’s supporters, for the most part, don’t think it is necessary for him to release his returns, though 13 percent of Trump voters now (and 16% of Republicans) would like to have them made public. 85 percent of the President’s supporters believe the media has given too much attention to the President’s tax return story, while Biden voters want to see more: 95 percent of them say the media has spent the right amount of time or too little to the story. 

Most Americans who file tax returns did so before April 15, so they didn’t need to use the extension of the due date to July 15. But in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll there still are many who say they will wait until after the deadline to send in (or eFile) their returns.  

Those with higher incomes take longer to file their taxes. So do those under the age of 30. One in five of young taxpayers say they won’t file until after the new deadline. One in three Americans overall took advantage of the filing deadline extension due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Most taxpayers prepare their own tax returns, but both those at the lowest income levels and at the very highest (over $150,000) are the most likely to have someone else prepare tax forms. Among self-filers, tax preparation software is much more popular than using paper forms from the Internal Revenue Service. 

See the toplines and crosstabs from this week’s Economist/YouGov Poll 

Methodology: The most recent Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 U.S. adult citizens interviewed online between July 5 - 7, 2020. The approximate margin of error is 3.2 percentage points for the overall sample. Samples are weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. 

Image: Getty