A bill that would authorize state tax officials to release returns filed by seven types of state and federal officeholders has been approved by New York Senate on May 8.

Although the bill named no names, the bill would allow the state Department of Taxation and Finance commissioner to release any state tax return requested by the leaders of the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means, the Senate Finance Committee or the Joint Committee on Taxation for any “specific and legitimate purpose.”

The bill called the TRUST Act, passed by a 39 to 21 vote. Those congressional committees can now file a request with the state, after strong efforts to gain access to President Donald Trump’s federal tax filings, through the Treasury Department, have failed.

The bill isn’t scheduled for a vote yet in the state Assembly, where more than 90 Democrats in the 150-seat chamber support the legislation.

Until now, IRS release of tax returns—even the president’s—was prohibited, except to individuals or authorized agencies.

The president’s home state is New York, where many of his businesses’ headquarters are based. State tax returns are likely to reflect much of what is in federal tax returns.

FILE—New York State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-NY), (L), speaks to members in the Senate Chamber at the Capitol on the opening day of the legislative session in Albany, N.Y., on Jan. 4, 2017.Calling it a “blatant political act,” Flanagan, now the leader of the chamber’s Republican minority, opposes the bill that would allow congressional investigators to get access to President Donald Trump’s state tax returns. The state Senate approved the legislation on May 8, 2019. (Hans Pennink/AP Photo, File)

President Trump’s tax returns

It was only two days ago that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin declared that President Donald Trump does not have to hand over his tax returns to the House Committee on Ways and Means on May 6.

Mnuchin told the committee’s chairman Richard Neal (D–Mass.) in a letter that the panel’s request “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose” as the Supreme Court requires.

Pending lawsuit

In the meantime, President Trump’s lawyers are suing on his behalf to block a subpoena issued by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.). He told CNN and Mazars USA, the president’s accountant that it is “a friendly subpoena.” He is asking for 10 years of the president’s tax records.

The president has also filed lawsuits against Deutsche Bank and Capital One in efforts to block the  House committee subpoenas requesting copies of his business financial records. 

The House Financial Services and House Intelligence panels issued the subpoenas to Deutsche Bank, Capital One, and several other financial institutions on April 15, just days before the full but redacted Mueller report was released, finding no collision between the president, his 2016 campaign, or The Trump Organization and Russia.

Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told NBC the subpoenas were part of an investigation “into allegations of potential Russian influence on the U.S. political process.”

So far this year, lawmakers in at least 20 states have introduced bills that would require presidential candidates to release their tax returns as a condition for appearing on their state ballots. Critics say such laws may be unconstitutional.

The Associated Press assisted with this report.

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