New York state’s legislature on Wednesday approved a bill to allow the state to give Congress President Trump’s state tax returns, which could allow U.S. House members to review portions of the president’s financial records.
The bill now heads to New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D), who has expressed support for the effort and is expected to sign it into law.
It’s unclear whether House Democrats will request the state records, after a spokesman for the House Ways and Means Committee said the state documents may not be relevant to the committee’s investigation. The records would have to be requested by the committee for them to be turned over. Their disclosure by state officials could also be challenged in court.
“This request was in furtherance of an investigation into the mandatory presidential audit program at the IRS," said Dan Rubin, a spokesman for House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.). "State returns would not help us evaluate this program and decide if legislative action is needed to codify this program into federal law.”
The Democrats are seeking access to Trump’s federal tax returns, which the Treasury Department has declined to release.
New York’s legislation would allow the state to turn over Trump’s state returns to congressional committees. The documents could provide an unprecedented look into Trump’s New York business dealings, his income and other personal financial information, according to legal experts.
“The significance here is now that Ways and Means has a quicker route to some important information about Trump’s tax returns,” said Daniel Hemel, an assistant professor of law at the University of Chicago. “But they still have to take it."
The push comes as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin faces new pressure over Trump’s personal tax returns, which Trump refused to release in the 2016 presidential campaign in a break with decades of precedent.
Mnuchin rejected a subpoena from the Ways and Means Committee for the returns, setting the stage for a likely court fight over the documents. Mnuchin also faced questions on Wednesday from lawmakers about an internal Internal Revenue Service draft memo contradicting his basis for denying access to Trump’s returns.
New York’s legislation was amended earlier this month to ensure that federal tax return information is redacted when released to Congress. Legal experts had raised concerns that inadvertently disclosing federal tax information, even to the congressional committees, could force New York officials to violate federal law.
The bill now also is limited to allow the state to share returns only of government officials at the federal, state and local levels.