Democrats have launched yet another effort to get President Donald Trump’s long sought but elusive tax returns that could answer many questions about the true scope of his alleged financial corruption. New York state Democrats are introducing legislation that if passed, would allow for the commissioner of the New York Department of Taxation and Finance to release state tax returns to leaders of a selection of Congressional committees if requested for any “specific and legitimate legislative purpose.” Those committees include the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, and the Joint Committee on Taxation, who would have to have first requested tax material from the Treasury Department for their requests to be valid.
The proposed new mechanism for getting the president’s financial information would sidestep an argument with the Trump administration itself, which has indicated they’re keen on fighting demands from Congressional Democrats for the president’s federal tax returns. Since New York houses the core of the Trump family’s sprawling global business, much of the information on those federal documents would likely also be found on the state version. The new legislation would open up a wide range of state returns to federal scrutiny, including personal income, corporation, and real estate transfer taxes. Altogether legislation sponsor state Sen. Brad Hoylman (D) explained the push as an intended “safety valve for any attempt by the White House to block the Congress from doing this at the federal level.”
As he indicates, New York state Democrats are far from the first group to seek to procure Trump’s tax returns, which he originally promised he would release before walking that back once in office — not that many at that point expected the president to just hand over the documents anyway. Last week, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) filed a request with the IRS Commissioner for six years of Trump’s personal and business tax returns, utilizing a comparatively old legal provision established in response to a past bribery scandal enveloping the Harding administration all the way back in the 1920s.
Close Trump allies including his legal team and acting chief of staff have denounced the push, but at least as of early Monday, Democrats were still waiting for a formal response from the Treasury Department. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has previously asserted to Neal’s committee that his department will “protect the president as we would protect any individual taxpayer under their rights.”
Meanwhile, New York authorities have already proven ready and willing to go after the president. Their state attorney general’s office has launched numerous efforts against the president, including a wide-ranging lawsuit seeking millions of dollars in damages over the corrupt and now defunct Trump Foundation. In addition, both chambers of the state legislature have Democratic majorities, and the state is led by Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo, although he did not immediately return a request for comment from The New York Times about the legislation.
The documents Democrats are after could reveal everything from corrupting foreign financial ties to evidence of the president’s alleged tax, insurance, and bank fraud.
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