New York State Democrats make their own push for Trump’s taxes

Pompeo says Saudi attack ‘act of war’ as Trump orders new sanctions
Copyright 2019 CNN
President Donald Trump

New York legislators are making a new push for the release of President Donald Trump’s taxes under state law, a move that could offer Democrats an end run around fights in Washington over the President’s federal returns.

A bill introduced on Monday in the New York State Senate would authorize the state’s tax commissioner to release state tax returns to Congress upon request.

Trump is a New York resident, and the state is home to the headquarters of his family business, the Trump Organization.

Though the legislation would only enable the release of the President’s state returns, the fact that much of the President’s business has been conducted in New York means that such returns could be nearly as telling as his federal returns.

The measure is being sponsored by State Senator Brad Hoylman.

If passed, the bill would authorize the commissioner of the state’s Department of Taxation and Finance to hand over tax returns at the request of the US House of Representatives’ Ways and Means Committee, the US Senate Finance Committee or the Joint Committee on Taxation, Hoylman’s spokeswoman Avery Cohen told CNN. She added that the bill would stipulate that the request be “for a specified and legitimate legislative purpose.”

A spokesman for New York Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins told CNN Monday that the bill is under consideration.

“It is something we will be discussing as Conference to decide if and when to move forward on this legislation,” said Mike Murphy, the spokesperson for Stewart-Cousins, said.

Republican State Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb called the bill “political grandstanding.”

“New York has some of the highest, most oppressive taxes in America and people are leaving in droves because of it,” he said in an emailed statement. “President Trump’s return isn’t the tax conversation New York Democrats should be having.”

“Ultimately, the scrutiny of anyone’s tax returns, whether private citizen or public official, is between the taxpayer, the IRS or New York State Tax and Finance Department — not the legislature,” Kolb added.

Jed Shugerman, a professor of law at Fordham University who specializes in constitutional law, told CNN that he believes the proposed legislation would stand up to legal challenge — but that New York legislators should still be prepared for a fight to get the returns.

“Anything can end up in the courts,” he said.

Hoylman has a history of pursuing legislation to uncover Trump’s financial history. Last year, Hoylman sponsored a bill that would have required any presidential or vice presidential candidate who wished to appear on the ballot in New York to file five years of federal income tax returns with the state Board of Elections.

That bill, known as the “tax returns uniformly made public” — or TRUMP — act, was defeated in committee.

Hoylman is currently sponsoring a similar bill which is before the state senate’s elections committee.

Trump has declined to release his tax returns, the first president in over 40 years to do so. He has claimed that ongoing Internal Revenue Service audits prevent him from doing so, despite the fact that no such audit would prohibit their release.