Mike Pence may break with Donald Trump over tax returns

Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence, right, seen here in July with Donald Trump, suggested that he could break with Trump and release his tax returns. [Associated Press]
Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence, right, seen here in July with Donald Trump, suggested that he could break with Trump and release his tax returns. [Associated Press]
Published August 14 2016

COLUMBUS, Ind. — Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, the Republican vice-presidential nominee, suggested Saturday that he might release his tax returns before Election Day, even as his running mate has shown no inclination of doing the same.

Breaking with campaign custom, the Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, has refused to release his returns. On Friday, the Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, and her running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, made public their own 2015 returns, while pointedly noting that Trump had not done the same.

On Saturday morning, at a campaign stop in his hometown, Columbus, Ind., Pence ignored questions from reporters about whether he would release his returns. But in an interview with Rita Cosby of WABC Radio that aired Saturday, he hinted, although he did not promise, that his returns could become public.

"When my forms are filed and when my tax returns are released it's going to be a quick read, Rita," Pence said.

His answer suggested he had not yet filed his 2015 return; the Internal Revenue Service allows taxpayers to apply for a six-month extension from the April filing deadline. His campaign did not respond Saturday evening to requests for more details.

If he were to release his returns before Trump did, it would not be the first time he broke with the top of the ticket. The governor is a markedly different candidate from Trump, maintaining his balanced demeanor and even disagreeing with the volatile Trump at times, creating an unusual pairing that both men seem comfortable with for now.

Trump has said he will not release his tax returns because they are being audited. Democrats have suggested he does not want to show them because they might reveal that he is not as wealthy as he claims to be or perhaps that he pays little because of tax breaks for real estate developers.

When Clinton released her returns Friday — they showed that she and her husband had earned an adjusted gross income of $10.6 million last year, mostly from books and speeches — Clinton made a point to note that she had paid a third of her income in federal taxes.

Kaine and his wife, Anne Holton, who was Virginia's secretary of education until she stepped down last month, reported income of $313,441 for 2015.

At a rally in New Hampshire on Saturday, Kaine assailed Trump for keeping his tax returns under wraps. "Even Richard Nixon released his tax returns to the public when he was running for president," Kaine said.

(In fact, Nixon did not release his taxes until 1973, a year after his last campaign. Other than Gerald Ford, who released a summary of his return, all presidential candidates since then have made their recent returns public.)

"He says the rules that apply to everybody else do not apply to Donald J. Trump," Kaine said of Trump.

In his radio interview, Pence noted that he had not become wealthy over his past 16 years as a congressman and governor, and took a shot of his own at Clinton.

"All of this class warfare talk that we heard coming out of her speech yesterday rings a little bit hollow," he said. "What you have, you know, what you have in the Clintons is an extremely prosperous family that's made tens of millions of dollars related to and derivative of their time in and around public service, and the American people now know that clearly from that release."