Today New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) signed into law a bill that would allow the release of President Trump’s state tax returns. This new law is seen by many as a potential inroads to accessing Trump’s financial information amid Trump’s refusal to hand over his federal income tax returns as requested by congressional committee. Cuomo described the new state law, according to The New York Times, as helping Congress to “fulfill its Constitutional responsibilities, strengthen our democratic system and ensure that no one is above the law.”
New York’s law allows the release of state tax returns for public figures, for employees of the federal executive branch, and for political party leaders upon the request of any of three congressional committees for a “specified and legitimate legislative purpose”, according to The New York Times. The three committees that may make such a request under the new law are the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, and the Joint Committee on Taxation – it is the chair of each committee who would be authorized to make the request. At this time, it is the House Ways and Means Committee that is most likely to make such a request of New York state. According to The New York Times:
As the battle over President Trump’s federal taxes intensifies in Washington, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York signed a bill on Monday to allow congressional committees to access the president’s state tax returns. …It is effective immediately, though it is unclear whether it would be challenged by the Trump administration, or used by the congressional committees; the Ways and Means Committee, for instance, has said previously that it remains focused on pursuing Mr. Trump’s federal tax information. Still, the state tax documents from New York — the president’s home state and business headquarters — would likely contain much of the same information as the contested federal returns, tax experts say. …In a statement, Mr. Cuomo agreed that “tax secrecy is paramount,” with, however, “the exception being for bona fide investigative and law enforcement purposes.” Legal challenges could await; Mr. Trump has previously said that he is ready to take the fight over his federal tax returns to the Supreme Court.
The House Ways and Means Committee requested six years of Trump’s federal tax returns, but Trump and the Treasury/IRS have refused to supply them. Last week the House brought suit against the Treasury Department and the IRS to force them to turn over Trump’s federal tax returns. It is not yet known if Trump will attempt to challenge New York’s new law, or if the House Ways and Means Committee will avail itself of this opportunity to obtain Trump’s state tax returns while it awaits the outcome of the House’s lawsuit seeking to force the IRS to turn over Trump’s federal returns.