New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday signed an amendment to New York law that would allow Congress to get hold of President Donald Trump’s state tax returns while the legal battle for his federal returns rages on.
The law, which takes effect Monday, requires the state’s tax commissioner to provide New York state tax returns to Congress upon request from the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, or the Joint Committee on Taxation and mandates the removal of any federal tax information that might appear on state returns.
Despite this, there are no immediate plans for House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal to request Trump’s state tax returns as the law outlines, according to a Democratic aide with knowledge of the situation. Utilizing the New York law could complicate the battle the Democratic-led House Ways and Means Committee has already been waging in court to obtain six years of the President’s personal and business federal tax returns.
Additionally, if the House Ways and Means Committee tried to obtain Trump’s state taxes through the New York law, it would likely trigger a lengthy legal debate over its authority to do so. While the committee has jurisdiction over federal tax laws, state tax laws mostly fall to the House Judiciary Committee.
Should a congressional committee decide to utilize the law, Trump attorney Jay Sekulow told CNN Monday the administration would push back.
“This is more Presidential harassment. We will respond to this as appropriate,” he said.
But Cuomo, a Democrat, said in a statement that the amendment “gives Congress the ability to fulfill its Constitutional responsibilities, strengthen our democratic system and ensure that no one is above the law.”
New York Democrats, who passed the legislation in May, touted it as a way to hold Trump — who still holds New York residency, and most of his businesses are headquartered in the state — accountable while his administration continues to fight efforts to access his federal returns.
Before the legislation was signed into law, New York state Sen. Brad Hoylman, a Democrat who sponsored the bill, said the fight for Trump’s tax returns was “our responsibility as New Yorkers and legislators.”
He added: “We’re on the precipice of a constitutional showdown between two branches of our federal government. We as New Yorkers can step into that breach and help solve this problem.”
The Trump administration has continued to stand its ground against all efforts to obtain his tax returns. Trump has claimed that ongoing IRS audits have stopped him from making his tax returns public, even though audits don’t prevent individuals from releasing tax returns.
On the federal level, the Democrat-led House Ways and Means Committee filed a lawsuit last week to enforce subpoenas that would obtain Trump’s tax returns. Sekulow has vowed to fight that lawsuit in court.