New York Governor signs bill Monday that may allow Congress to receive President Trump’s state tax returns
According to the New York Times and Fox News, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo of New York signed a bill on Monday that may allow Congressional committees to receive President Trump’s tax returns. The bill, which is effective immediately, states that by the request of one of three congressional committees – the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, and the Join Committee on Taxation – that state tax officials are legally allowed to hand over President Trump’s state tax returns to the said congressional committees if proven through legal processes that doing so has a “specified and legitimate legislative purpose” (The New York Times, 2019). The bill also states that the committee must have already requested federal returns from the Treasury Department. ~
The House Ways and Means Committee, which, according to Dictionary.com, is the permanent House of Representatives committee that is the “principal source of legislation concerning issues such as taxation, customs duties, and international trade agreements,” previously made a request to the Treasury Department for President Trump’s federal tax returns. But according to Fox News, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin declined to provide such returns after he reportedly determined that lawmakers did not show a “legitimate legislative purpose for their request.” This refusal by the Treasury Secretary was quickly followed by an issued subpoena for the President’s federal returns, which Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig did not comply to. The House Ways and Means Committee then sued the Trump administration for failing to comply to the issued subpoenas. ~
Although the New York bill is in effect immediately, it remains unclear whether the bill will be challenged by the Trump administration, or if the House committees in play are even interested in anything but the President’s federal tax returns. Critics of the bill claim that the bill is unconstitutional due to the Constitution prohibiting what is known as a “bill of attainder,” which is a law that singles out an individual person for punishment. Governor Cuomo indicated, however, that he would only sign the bill if it applies to everyone, not just President Trump. The bill does meet that standard. Cuomo stated Monday that “By amending the law enforcement exception in New York State tax code to include Congressional tax-related committees, this bill gives Congress the ability to fulfill its Constitutional responsibilities, strengthen our democratic system and ensure that no one is above the law.” ~
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