Otis Sanford: Candidates should hand over tax information

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Governor Bill Haslam and President Donald Trump have at least one thing in common. They both got elected despite refusing to disclose their personal income tax returns. Haslam said his returns would expose sensitive information about his family`s private business. And the President said he couldn't because his returns were under audit.

So it's worth noting that at least some of the candidates seeking to replace Haslam as governor, are making their tax information public now. Among those who honored a request by Tennessee's major newspapers are Congresswoman Diane Black, state House speaker Beth Harwell and state House minority leader Craig Fitzhugh.

Information provided by Black shows that she and her husband reported more than $78 million in taxable income between 2013 to 2016. By contrast, Harwell and her husband earned about $1.5 million during those four years. Fitzhugh's report covered only 2016, but said he and his wife earned about $464,000.

None of the other major candidates have complied with the newspaper request although most say they intend to do so.

Let's be clear. This is not just an exercise in being nosy. Candidates wanting to be elected governor, to the U.S. Senate or the White House should absolutely release their income tax information. It speaks to transparency and public trust.

Hopefully all of the gubernatorial hopefuls will share their returns sooner rather than later.