New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, signed a bill Monday that will allow some members of Congress to access President Donald Trump’s New York state tax returns, NBC News reported.
The bill was passed by New York’s Democrat-controlled state legislature in May, and allows the commissioner of the New York Department of Taxation and Finance to release state tax returns of an individual holding federal, state, or local public office, along with entities those individuals have a large stake in, should they be requested by congressional tax-writing committees. Those committees include the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, and the Joint Committee on Taxation.
“This bill gives Congress the ability to fulfill its Constitutional responsibilities, strengthen our democratic system and ensure that no one is above the law,” Cuomo said in a statement.
Congress would have to provide a “specified and legitimate legislative purpose” in requesting the tax returns.
Prior to the passage of the law, this type of release was generally not allowed, per NBC News. Those congressional committees were only permitted to file a request with the state if attempts to obtain the records through the U.S. Department of Treasury were unsuccessful.
The law would only help Congress obtain the president’s state tax returns and not his federal returns, but according to The New York Daily News, New York state tax returns contain much of the same information as federal returns.
Gov. Cuomo is expected to act soon on a pair of bills aimed at President Trump, the governor's office says: one aimed at making it easier for Congress to obtain the president's state tax returns and the other seeking to curb his pardon power. https://t.co/BMSeqwrp7d— MSNBC (@MSNBC) July 8, 2019
The president has notably refused to release his tax returns. In an interview with ABC News‘ George Stephanopoulos in June, Trump said his “financial statement” will be turned over “at some point,” but would not commit to releasing it.
According to Fox News, the bill could face legal challenges. While Cuomo said he would only sign such a bill if it were to apply to all public office holders, and not just Trump, some believe that since the bill was crafted with Trump in mind, it could be ruled unconstitutional. The Constitution prohibits laws that single out a particular person for punishment.
An initial version of the bill allowed for the request of any New York resident’s state tax returns, but Cuomo signed a revised version that applies only to elected officials and associated entities. The bill was also amended to ensure federal tax information that appears alongside the state returns is redacted.
The House Ways and Means Committee had previously requested Trump’s returns from the U.S. Department of Treasury; however, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin refused to provide them, claiming the House had failed to provide a legitimate legislative purpose for the request. The committee later sued the administration for failing to comply with a subpoena they issued for the president’s tax returns, per Fox News.