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Assembly to OK allowing Congress to get Trump's NY tax returns

Speaker Carl Heastie says the bill is a workaround given the standoff in Washington over the president's tax returns.

State senators approved legislation on May 8 in

State senators approved legislation on May 8 in Albany to authorize state tax officials to release, if requested, individual New York State tax returns to Congress. Photo Credit: AP / Tim Roske

ALBANY — The state Assembly on Wednesday will approve a bill that would allow Congress to get President Donald Trump’s state tax returns, officials said, potentially giving Democrats a way around the White House’s refusal to make available his federal returns.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) said he considered the state workaround a type of “in case of emergency, break glass” legislation, given the standoff in Washington over the president’s tax returns.

The income tax bill would authorize the New York Tax Department to release New York returns to one of three congressional committees upon request: the House Ways and Means Committee, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee or the Joint Committee on Taxation.

Earlier this month, the Trump administration said it wouldn’t provide the president’s tax returns as requested by the House Ways and Means Committee. Taking action in Albany, Democrats said the bill was about ensuring oversight and not allowing Trump to ignore a “co-equal branch of government.”

Heastie said a previous version of the bill was narrowed to ensure it applied to elected officials such as a president, vice president, member of Congress and other select positions — and not to the public at large.

For “people in positions of authority, you want to make sure there are no conflicts,” Heastie said.

The State Senate approved a version earlier this month. After the Assembly acts, the bill would be in the hands of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. Earlier this year, an aide said the Democratic governor could support the legislation “as long as it applies to everybody” and not just Trump.

 A leading Republican said New York Democrats were overstepping.

“This bill does nothing to help New York State. We should be dealing with our homegrown problems rather than wasting another second on more political grandstanding," Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R-Canandaigua) said.

An upstate senator also decried the bill, but said at least it's been tightened to focus only on elected officials.

"The bill is a political exercise but these amendments make sense," Sen. Rich Funke (R-Rochester) wrote on Twitter. "The original bill gave Congress access to the tax returns of any citizen. This limits to elected officials. Better than version Senate Dems passed but still not needed."

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