Albany Steps Closer to Releasing Trump's State Tax Returns After Assembly Vote

Photo Credit: Hans Pennink/AP/Shutterstock
May 22, 2019

By Spencer Feingold

A New York law that will allow the release of President Trump's highly sought after state tax returns to Congress is now headed to the desk of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The state Assembly voted on Wednesday 84-53 in favor the TRUST Act. The law would allow New York's commissioner of taxation and finance to cooperate with congressional investigations, opening the door to the release of Trump's tax filings upon the request of the House Ways and Means Committee. The bill was passed by the New York State Senate earlier this month.

"New Yorkers have a special responsibility as the home state of Donald Trump to help Congress in its solemn responsibilities as a co-equal branch of government," New York State Senator Brad Hoylman told Cheddar in an interview Tuesday. Hoylman co-sponsored the bill with state Assemblymember David Buchwald.

Gov. Cuomo (D-N.Y.) has expressed his support for the TRUST Act, which will require his signature before becoming law.

Under the TRUST Act, the state would only be able to fulfill requests from Congress for Trump's state filings, which would, nonetheless, provide lawmakers and the public with significant insight into the New York real estate developer's financial holdings.

"Donald Trump and his administration are doing everything they can to conceal the truth about his finances and massive conflicts of interest by illegally blocking Congress from obtaining his tax returns," Stand Up America, a progressive advocacy group, said in a statement Wednesday. "In order to circumvent this stonewalling, New York lawmakers are providing a new avenue for the House Ways and Means Committee to obtain these crucial financial documents."

Stand Up America also urged Gov. Cuomo to immediately sign the bill.

President Trump first refused to release his taxes during the 2016 election, claiming he was under audit and then alleging that his taxes were not of concern to the American people. The Trump administration has since bucked several attempts from congressional Democrats to obtain the president's taxes and examine possible foreign entanglements and fraud.

Earlier this month, the Treasury Department refused to provide the House Ways and Means Committee Trump's taxes, claiming the request from the committee chair, Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), was unlawful.

In response, Neal issued subpoenas on May 10 to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and the Commissioner of the IRS for six years of Trump's personal and business tax returns — the Trump administration refused to comply with the legal summons.

"The New York State Legislature has stepped up to promote transparency while the U.S. Treasury Department has instead denied lawful requests for tax records from the House of Representatives," Assemblymember Buchwald said in a statement following Wednesday's vote. "Our state and federal governments have endured for over 200 years thanks to the system of checks and balances provided in our Constitution, and this bill is consistent with that tradition."

The New York Republican party, however, claims that the law is a "brazen overreach" and "a violation of the privacy rights" for all Americans, which would set a concerning precedent.

"Assembly Democrats can warm to this illegal bill of attainder all they want, but it will be met with a lawsuit," the Republican state committee said in a tweet last week.