NY Senate passes bill allowing Congress to request Trump's state tax returns

The New York Senate on Wednesday passed legislation that would allow Congress to obtain President TrumpDonald John TrumpTed Cruz knocks New York Times for 'stunning' correction on Kavanaugh report US service member killed in Afghanistan Pro-Trump website edited British reality star's picture to show him wearing Trump hat MORE’s tax returns from the state.

The bill passed by a vote of 39-21. The measure now heads to the state Assembly.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has signaled he would sign the bill into law.

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The state Senate also passed a bill, in a 39-22 vote, that would allow New York to prosecute people who received presidential pardons if certain conditions are met.

The tax-returns legislation authorizes the New York commissioner of taxation and finance to provide state returns requested by the chairmen of Congress’s tax committees, so long as the requests have a legitimate legislative purpose and as long as Congress is also requesting related federal tax returns from the U.S. Treasury Department.

The bill comes as House Democrats and the Trump administration are fighting over a request for Trump’s federal tax returns.

Backers of the New York bill see it as a way for Congress to view Trump’s tax information even as his administration has denied Democrats’ request for the federal tax returns.

“New York, as the home of the President’s state returns, has a special role and responsibility to step into the breach,” state Sen. Brad Hoylman (D) said on Twitter hours before the vote. “Washington has failed to act. We intend to lead.”

Republicans in the state Senate criticized the bill, arguing that it would amount to an invasion of taxpayers’ privacy. They criticized the fact that under the legislation, Congress could request anyone’s state tax returns, not just Trump’s.

“This is wrong,” said state Sen. Andrew Lanza (R). “I don’t want members of Congress deciding when they can attack citizens of New York.”

In Congress, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealTrump urges judge to deny New York's motion to dismiss state tax return lawsuit Ten notable Democrats who do not favor impeachment Trump probes threaten to overshadow Democrats' agenda MORE (D-Mass.) last month requested Trump’s personal and business tax returns for 2013 through 2018 from the IRS. Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinIran: Rouhani, Trump won't meet at United Nations Trump denies reports he's willing to meet with Iran with 'no conditions' Turkey confirms delivery of second Russian anti-missile system MORE on Monday rejected the request, saying it lacks a legitimate legislative purpose.

Democrats argue their request is legitimate, with Neal saying that the committee is interested in oversight and legislative proposals relating to how the IRS audits and enforces tax laws against a president. Neal said on Tuesday that he is planning to make a decision about his next steps by the end of the week, and said that he thinks the matter is headed to the courts.

Besides interest in examining how the IRS audits presidents, Democrats have given a host of other reasons as to why they want to see Trump’s tax returns. They amplified those calls after The New York Times published an article Tuesday that said Trump reported more than $1 billion in business losses on tax forms from 1985 to 1994.

Trump is the first president in decades who hasn’t released any of his tax returns. He has said he doesn’t want to release them while under audit, though the IRS has said audits don’t prevent people from making their own tax information public.

Democratic politicians in New York have been aggressive in their efforts to fight the Trump administration. New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) has led and signed on to a host of lawsuits against the administration, filing a suit Monday against the Treasury Department and the IRS alleging that they have failed to comply with Freedom of Information Act requests from the state.

Lawmakers in several other states are also trying to obtain Trump’s tax returns ahead of the 2020 election. Bills have been offered in several states to require that presidential candidates release their tax returns in order to appear on the ballot.