NEW YORK — Lawmakers in Congress could soon get a consolation prize from New York State in their fight to get ahold of President Donald Trump’s tax returns.
The state Senate passed a bill Wednesday that would allow the Department of Taxation and Finance to hand over Trump’s state tax returns — or those of any other New Yorker — to any of three congressional committees.
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The 39-21 vote came amid an escalating fight between Democrats in Congress and the Trump administration over the Republican president’s tax returns. The bill’s Democratic supporters argued Empire State lawmakers have a responsibility to help Congress keep the president honest.
“Congress will be allowed to fulfill its lawful oversight responsibilities and provide accountability and transparency to the American people,” state Sen. Brad Hoylman, a Manhattan Democrat who sponsors the bill, said on the Senate floor. “Washington has failed to act on this issue. The administration is stonewalling a co-equal branch of government.”
The vote came two days after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin shot down the House Ways and Means Committee’s request for Trump’s tax returns from the last six years. Trump has repeatedly resisted calls to release his tax filings, a longtime tradition for presidential candidates.
While New York lawmakers lack jurisdiction over his federal returns, the potential disclosure of Trump’s state returns could be significant because the president owns residences in New York and his private company, the Trump Organization, is headquartered here.
Hoylman’s bill would allow the Department of Taxation and Finance to share any state tax returns with the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee or the Joint Committee on Taxation. State tax law currently bars the agency from disclosing returns except in certain circumstances.
The chair of one of those congressional panels would have to submit a written request for any state returns indicating that they need them for a legitimate legislative purpose and that they have sought related federal returns or return information from the U.S. Treasury secretary.
“We’re not talking about a fishing expedition here,” Hoylman said.
The bill still has to make it through the heavily Democratic state Assembly. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has indicated he would support it as long as it also covered state and local officials.
The measure drew some opposition Wednesday from Senate Republicans, who accused Democrats of launching a misguided attack on Trump while neglecting issues such as crime and student loan debt.
Going after the president will “solve crime, that’ll create jobs, that’ll save lives, that’ll pay off student debt — not,” said Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island). “It’s really crazy.”
The bill’s passage came after The New York Times revealed some important details of Trump’s finances despite the president’s resistance to releasing his own tax returns. Trump reported more than $1 billion in business losses from 1985 to 1994, the paper reported, citing official tax transcripts from the Internal Revenue Service.