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New York Senate OKs Giving US House Access to Trump’s State Tax Returns

May 8, 2019 by Dan McCue
New York Senate OKs Giving US House Access to Trump’s State Tax Returns
(Photo courtesy New York State Senate)

New York State’s Democrat-controlled Senate Wednesday easily approved a bill that would allow three congressional committees to review President Donald Trump’s state tax returns.

The vote was 39-21.

The bill, which now must be approved by New York’s Democrat-controlled Assembly, does not mention Trump by name, but instead authorizes state tax officials to release returns filed by seven categories of elected officials if those returns are requested by the chairs of the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee or the Joint Committee on Taxation.

If passed by the Assembly and ultimately signed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, the law would allow the commissioner of the New York Department of Taxation and Finance to release to the specifically named federal panels any state tax return filed by the U.S. president and vice president, U.S. senators, or the state’s governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general or comptroller.

It could allow the House committees to review anything from personal state income taxes, real estate taxes and corporate income taxes and going back as much as five years before the person took office.

Cuomo, a Democrat, has already said he supports the legislation, but only if it also applies to all state lawmakers and statewide elected officials in New York. It has been reported that more than 90 Democrats in the 150-seat Assembly chamber also support the bill.

Speaking on the floor of the State Senate on Wednesday, State Senator Brad Hoylman, one of the sponsors of the bill, said events of the past week in Washington make “it all more important that the state of New York steps into the constitutional void and provides Congress with what it is entitled to know.”

But State Senator John Flanagan, leader of the chamber’s Republican minority, rejected such statements, and dismissed the bill as nothing more than a “blatant political act.”

The vote in New York State came two days after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin refused to turn the president’s federal tax returns over to House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal.

“In reliance on the advice of the Department of Justice, I have determined that the Committee’s request lacks a legitimate legislative purpose,” Mnuchin said in a letter to the committee chair. “The Department is therefore not authorized to disclose the requested returns and return information.”

The refusal sets the stage for an almost certain court battle. If the bill in New York, which is Trump’s home state, ultimately becomes law, it will also almost certainly face a court challenge.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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