Albany Democrats introduced legislation Monday to force the release of President Trump’s state tax returns.
The bill would allow the commissioner of the state Department of Taxation and Finance to release a state tax return that has been requested by one of three US congressional panels for a “specific and legitimate purpose.”
It would seek to amend state laws that prohibits the release of private tax information.
New York is the president’s home state and where his business empire, the Trump Organization, is based.
“Basically the bill would create a exception to the state’s tax privacy laws to authorize state tax returns at the request of a congressional committee,” state Sen. Brad Hoylman told the Post.
“The taxes wouldn’t be made public, and it’s a request for the personal and corporate taxes in response to an official request by three committees, the House Ways and Means, Senate Finance Committee and the Joint Committee on Taxation.”
“The federal government already has this ability, but this creates an additional pathway to for Congress,” Hoylman (D-Manhattan) added.
Another piece of legislation introduced by Hoylman and state Assemblyman David Buchwald would require the president, vice president and statewide officials to make their tax returns for the past five years public.
State Assembly Republican Leader Brian Kolb said lawmakers have enough pressing issues to keep them busy without the “political grandstanding.”
“New York has some of the highest, most oppressive taxes in America and people are leaving in droves because of it,” Kolb said.
“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,” he added.
An earlier effort to release Trump’s tax returns was blocked last year by the then-GOP-controlled state Senate.
Democratic Rep. Richard Neal, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, sent a letter to the IRS last Wednesday asking the agency to release Trump’s federal tax returns for the years 2013 to 2018.
The IRS has until April 10 to respond.
The president, speaking about the congressional effort to get his tax returns, said they are under audit.
“Until such time as I’m not under audit I would not be inclined to do that,” Trump said.
Republicans have dismissed the move to release Trump’s tax returns as a political stunt.
Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney told “Fox News Sunday”: “That is not going to happen, and they know it.”
Hoylman said the reluctance on the part of the Trump administration to be transparent about the returns prompted the legislation.
“It’s a necessary step to take because we’ve heard that in recent days the president and his advisers are attempting to block Congress from exercising it’s oversight abilities by refusing to comply with a request by the House Ways and Means Committee for the taxes of Donald Trump,” Hoylman said.
He said that the actions by state and national Democrats shouldn’t be taken lightly.
“But when it comes to individuals who are trying to impede Congress’ ability to provide oversight, I strongly think the state of New York should be helpful in combating that obfuscation,” he added.
Eighteen states have introduced legislation requiring presidential and vice presidential candidates release their tax returns to get on the state ballot, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The measures are pending in 14 states and have failed in Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Virginia.
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