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No tax returns, no place on the ballot

President-elect Donald Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns has prompted a move on Beacon Hill to bar presidential candidates from having their names appear on the Massachusetts primary and general election ballots if they do not make their income tax documents public.

Senator Mike Barrett, a Lexington Democrat, proposed the legislation in a recent letter to his Senate colleagues and House members. He noted there has been a longstanding but nonbinding tradition of candidates making their tax information public but that Trump’s candidacy ended that.

“The 2016 election shattered this confidence,’’ he said. “I hope we can come together to rebuild it.”


He even wants to close potential loopholes. Besides barring such candidates’ names from the ballot, his bill would also bar state electors from casting votes in the Electoral College for candidates who do not comply.

He argued that if Massachusetts adopted his proposal, it would not likely be alone, noting such a move is already afoot in New York State.

“Apologists for non-transparency will worry out loud that candidates may avoid competing in the state’s party primaries in order to duck disclosure and keep their financial entanglements hidden,’’ he said “But I doubt Massachusetts will be the only state to come forward in defense of the tradition of transparency.”

Frank Phillips can be reached at frank.phillips@globe.com.