New York State Legislature Passes Bill Enabling Congress Access to Trump’s State Tax Returns

Earlier this month, the Equal Justice Society joined Stand Up America, Free Speech for People and a coalition of local and national organizations to urge New York state lawmakers to pass the TRUST Act, legislation that gives House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal the authority to request Trump’s state tax information from New York State.

The coalition’s efforts included more than 3,300 constituent calls to lawmakers, digital ads, and lobbying efforts in Albany, including a letter sent to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie to urging its passage.

The New York State Assembly on May 21 passed the TRUST Act and the measure now awaits the governor’s signature.

“Donald Trump and his administration are doing everything they can to conceal the truth about his finances and massive conflicts of interest by illegally blocking Congress from obtaining his tax returns,” said Stand Up America in a statement. “In order to circumvent this stonewalling, New York lawmakers are providing a new avenue for the House Ways and Means Committee to obtain these crucial financial documents. As soon as this bill becomes law, all Chairman Neal will have to do is ask.”

“We applaud the lawmakers—especially Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblyman David Buchwald—who championed this legislation and the thousands of constituents who helped push it through the legislature,” continued Stand Up America. “We implore Governor Cuomo to immediately sign this bill into law to empower Chairman Neal to get answers on behalf of the American people.”

As Free Speech For People Legal Director, Ron Fein, noted last month: “This bill has been carefully tailored to allow New York to hold a president’s closest associates accountable for their criminal activity, while preserving all constitutional protections. Whether the president is a Democrat, Republican, or none of the above, a presidential pardon for his or her top aides or family members should not close the door on accountability under state law.”

The TRUST Act requires the commissioner of the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance to cooperate with investigations by certain committees of the United States Congress.

The law would require the Department to provide state tax returns and other return information, of public officials and corporate entities controlled by public officials, upon written request from the chairs of the House Ways and Means Committee, Senate Finance Committee, or the Joint Committee on Taxation.

The congressional request must be made for a legitimate task of Congress and the committee must have requested the related federal tax information from the Internal Revenue Service pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 6103(f)—the same law Chairman Neal used to request Trump’s tax returns from the IRS. Once obtained, the congressional committee can review and release the tax returns to Congress consistent with federal law.

For more background and information on this important bill to challenge abuse of the presidential pardon power, visit freespeechforpeople.org.