On Wednesday, the New York Senate passed a bill that will allow the commissioner of New York Department of Taxation and Finance to release any state tax return that is requested by the House of Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, or the Joint Committee on Taxation for any “specified and legitimate legislative purpose.”
The bill called the TRUST Act, passed by a 39 to 21 vote. The bill will give Congress the opportunity to view the long overdue tax returns of Donald Trump.
Though the bill will only allow the release of Trump’s state returns the returns should be a treasure trove of tax information including personal income tax, corporation taxes, and real-estate transfer taxes.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin informed Democrats that he would not be turning over Donald Trump’s tax returns earlier this week. He made the refusal knowing that the law requires that he do so. Mnuchin is actually risking jail to protect Trump’s financial information.
Even though this new bill will only give access to Trump’s state tax returns, but those returns should contain as much financial information as his federal returns do.
On Tuesday, State Senator Brad Hoylman announced that the State Senate had enough votes to pass the bill.
“New York’s role is even more crucial in assisting Congress in its oversight,” Holyman said. “What’s at stake here is the prerogative of legislative oversight. And the desire of New Yorkers and the American people to seek the truth behind Trump’s taxes.”
Donald Trump has broken 40 years of political tradition by not releasing his tax returns,” state Sen. Brad Hoylman, a Democrat who sponsored the legislation, said in a statement. “Now, his administration is precipitating a constitutional crisis by shielding the president from congressional oversight over those returns. Our system of checks and balances is failing. New York has a special role and responsibility to step into the breach.”
“I look forward to seeing the bill pass both houses, and reach the governor’s desk for a signature,” he added. “We must ensure that Congress can’t be blocked in their attempts to hold even the highest elected officials in the land accountable to the American people.”
“Here you have a president who is stonewalling the U.S. Congress, a co-equal branch of government undertaking its important oversight responsibilities,” Hoylman said. “Lo and behold, we have Donald Trump’s tax returns here in the state of New York and we can provide them to Congress if the IRS if the Treasury Department won’t.”
Speaking from the Senate floor on Wednesday, Republican state Sen. Frederick Akshar said “everyday taxpayers are not amused” by the legislative efforts.
“If you want to push back on the president if you want to raise hell with the president, go ahead,” he said. “Run for a House seat. Run for the United States Senate.”
Additionally, the state Senate also passed a bill on Wednesday that would allow state prosecutors to pursue charges against individuals pardoned by the president.
“The legislation upholds the standards of fairness & justice at the core of the double jeopardy law, and prevents it from being used as a tool to deny justice altogether,” New York Attorney General Letitia James tweeted. She added, “The bill embodies a central component to the foundation of our democracy: The President — unlike a monarch or authoritarian dictator — is not above the law and our laws should apply to all people of this nation equally, including and especially our leaders.”
Donald Trump has gone out of his way recently to go after New York officials.
“New York State and its Governor, Andrew Cuomo, are now proud members of the group of PRESIDENTIAL HARASSERS,” Mr. Trump tweeted in March. He added, “No wonder people are fleeing the State in record numbers. The Witch Hunt continues!”
Trump is the first president in decades who refused to release any of his tax returns. He has said he doesn’t want to release them while under audit, though the IRS has said audits do not prevent anyone from making their own tax information public.
Going all the way back to 1976, all but one major-party nominee released at least one return. Only Republican Gerald Ford, who lost to Democrat Jimmy Carter in 1976, did not release his tax returns.