NY state Senate passes bill allowing Congress to get Trump tax returns

Image: Donald Trump
President Donald Trump speaks to the media outside the White House on April 27, 2019. Copyright Jacquelyn Martin AP file
Copyright Jacquelyn Martin AP file
By Allan Smith with NBC News Politics
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, has pledged to sign the legislation, which covers the president's state filings, if it reaches his desk.


The New York state Senate on Wednesday passed a bill that would make it easier for Congress to obtain President Donald Trump's state tax returns, advancing a bill that Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he will sign if it reached his desk.

The bill, called the TRUST Act, passed by an 39 to 21 vote. The bill would amend state law to permit the state Department of Taxation and Finance commissioner to release any state tax return requested by the leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee or the Joint Committee on Taxation for any "specific and legitimate legislative purpose." Existing laws generally prohibit such a release.

Those congressional committees would have to file a request with the state only after efforts to gain access to federal tax filings through the Treasury Department failed.

The bill would only apply to Trump's state returns and not the federal ones currently at the center of a battle between the House and the Treasury Department. But those returns would provide a trove of information as New York serves as the headquarters of the president's business and which has served as his home.

Though the legislation would only apply to the president's state returns and not the federal ones currently at the center of a Washington battle, the tax filings are likely to contain much of the same information congressional lawmakers are seeking from his federal returns.

"Donald Trump has broken 40 years of political tradition by not releasing his tax returns," Democratic state Sen. Brad Hoylman, who sponsored the legislation, said in a statement. "Now, his administration is precipitating a constitutional crisis by shielding the president from congressional oversight over those returns. Our system of checks and balances is failing. New York has a special role and responsibility to step into the breach."

"I look forward to seeing the bill pass both houses, and reach the Governor's desk for a signature," he added. "We must ensure that Congress can't be blocked in their attempts to hold even the highest elected officials in the land accountable to the American people."

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said in a statement that the bill "is a workaround to a White House that continues to obstruct and stonewall the legitimate oversight work of Congress."

"The state return should generally match the federal return and obtaining it from New York State will enable us in Congress to perform our oversight function and maintain the rule of law," he added.

Speaking from the Senate floor on Wednesday, Republican state Sen. Frederick Akshar said "everyday taxpayers are not amused" by the legislative efforts.

"If you want to push back on the president, if you want to raise hell with the president, go ahead," he said. "Run for a House seat. Run for the United States Senate."

Both the state Senate and state Assembly, where the bill was advanced too, are under Democratic control, as is the governor's mansion. Last month, in an interview with WAMC, Cuomo said he supported the bill so long as it applies to any official elected in the state.

But Ed Cox, chairman of the New York Republican Party, told NBC News last month that the bill was clearly aimed at the president himself "with the purpose of re-litigating the 2016 campaign in which the people of the United States knew that he had not released his tax returns and they still elected him president of the United States."

The advancement of the bill comes as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Monday rejected House Democrats' request for Trump's federal returns, again missing a congressional deadline to turn over the documents. House Democrats are now faced with pursuing a legal battle with the Treasury Department to obtain the tax information.

Federal law gives three Congressional tax committees the unqualified right to obtain and review the otherwise confidential federal tax information of any taxpayer from the Treasury Department.

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

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