While congressional Democrats are taking their demand for President Trump's tax returns to federal court, intensifying the sprawling and historic balance-of-powers conflict between the White House and Capitol Hill, Democratic legislators in New York are engineering a work-around.
The state Senate passed legislation Wednesday afternoon that would give the congressional tax-wiring committees access to three forms of Trump's state tax returns (corporation, real estate transfer and personal income), which in theory will contain much of the same financial information as the forms he has filed with the IRS but refused to show anyone.
Because the president is a New Yorker, the state Legislature "has a special role and responsibility to assist Congress in fulfilling its oversight responsibilities," the measure's sponsor, Democrat Brad Holyman of Manhattan, told theRochester Democrat and Chronicle.
All of Albany is under Democratic control, so passage by the state House along party lines looks likely. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signaled he will sign the bill, so long as it applies not only to Trump but to any New Yorkers whose taxes fall in the sights of Congress.
A little-used law allows Congress to obtain any individual's federal returns, but this week the Treasury Department denied a request from the House Ways and Means Committee for six years of the president's filings, setting up a legal fight that could reach the Supreme Court. That would pose one of the defining tests of the congressional oversight powers Trump has challenged at every turn.
"Trump's White House has decided to wage war on the principles of transparency and oversight, arguing in a series of recent confrontations with the law enforcement community and Congress that the executive branch has the authority and independence to decide for itself whether it has to respond to – and even recognize – checks on its power," Timothy O'Brien, a Trump biographer and the executive editor of Bloomberg Opinion, wrote in a columnTuesday.
On Tuesday night a day after The New York Times reported on Trump's tax returns from 1985 through 1994, showing he lost more than $1 billion through his business dealings in that time. Trump's tweeted response Wednesday:
Real estate developers in the 1980's & 1990's, more than 30 years ago, were entitled to massive write offs and depreciation which would, if one was actively building, show losses and tax losses in almost all cases. Much was non monetary. Sometimes considered “tax shelter," ......
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 8, 2019