New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on Monday signed legislation that would allow Congress to obtain President Trump‘s state tax returns.
«This bill gives Congress the ability to fulfill its Constitutional responsibilities, strengthen our democratic system and ensure that no one is above the law,» Cuomo said in a statement.
The bill signing comes after the House Ways and Means Committee, led by Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), filed a lawsuit last week in order to obtain Trump’s federal tax returns from 2013 to 2018.
Neal has indicated that he may not seek Trump’s New York state returns, however.
He has said he wants to examine Trump’s federal tax returns because the House panel is interested in oversight and legislation related to how the IRS audits presidents.
“The difficulty is that we don’t have control over state taxes,” he told reporters in May.
Under the New York law, the chairmen of the House Ways and Means Committee, Senate Finance Committee and Joint Committee on Taxation can request federal, state and local officials’ state income tax returns from the commissioner of the New York Department of Taxation and Finance.
The state tax returns have to be requested in relation to a legitimate task of Congress, and lawmakers can only request them if they’ve requested related federal tax returns from the U.S. Treasury Department. Information in state tax returns that would violate federal or state law if disclosed, and certain personal information such as Social Security numbers would be redacted.
Cuomo signed the measure after the New York state legislature passed the legislation in May.
State Sen. Brad Hoylman (D), who authored the law, said that it «provides a safety valve» for members of Congress if they’re stymied by the Trump administration in their effort to obtain the president’s federal tax returns.
“I think the governor signing this bill underscores an important principle of our democracy, that no individual is above the law,” he told The Hill on Monday.
Hoylman said it’s up to Neal and his colleagues to decide whether they want to take advantage of the new law. Nonetheless, he said that «New York has an important role as a state to play in reestablishing checks and balances.»
He also expressed confidence that the law would «withstand any judicial review,» since it applies broadly to public officials and doesn’t just apply to Trump.
Ryan Thomas, spokesman for the liberal group Stand Up America, urged Neal to request Trump’s New York tax returns.
«Any further delay is an injustice to the American people who deserve transparency about Trump’s foreign entanglements and massive conflicts of interest,» he said in a statement.