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N.Y. Bill Would Give 3 Congressional Committees Access To Trump's State Tax Returns


As Congressional Democrats continue to try and get President Trump's tax returns from the IRS, the New York State Legislature is proposing a different strategy. Earlier this week, lawmakers passed a bill that would let three congressional committees get Trump's New York state returns. NPR's Peter Overby reports.

PETER OVERBY, BYLINE: The House of Representatives wants President Trump's tax returns. Investigators want to search for signs of money laundering or conflicts of interest or other wrongdoing. A 95-year-old law empowers the House Ways and Means Committee to get those returns. Of course, the Trump administration is fighting back hard. The New York State bill would make Trump's state data available, if Ways and Means asks. Steven M. Rosenthal's with the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center in Washington.

STEVEN M ROSENTHAL: I think the writing is on the wall that President Trump's financials are going to become more and more revealed over time, and New York just opened another front.

OVERBY: The bill's author is State Senator Brad Hoylman. He was on a train when he said he and other lawmakers held a special responsibility.

BRAD HOYLMAN: Given the fact that we're Trump's home state and location for the headquarters of many of his business interests.

OVERBY: The bill would reveal the basic information in a tax return and more could be calculated - sensitive information, like hard numbers for Trump's income. Again, Steven Rosenthal.

ROSENTHAL: That really is a bottom-line - did the president make money or lose money, year by year?

OVERBY: Still, Rosenthal said the New York bill won't reveal a lot of things, sometimes because the form doesn't ask.

ROSENTHAL: How is the president making his money? How much is from abroad? Are there Russian entanglements? Are there Saudi entanglements? You couldn't tell any of that from a New York state return.

OVERBY: And sometimes because New York will redact some federal information from the state filings. There's also a fundamental question - aren't tax returns supposed to be confidential? Francine Lipman, a tax professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said that's true, generally, but not in politics.

FRANCINE LIPMAN: It has been a tradition, arguably, that this has been disclosed by people who run for office.

OVERBY: Unlike the president's previous jobs as a real estate developer and reality TV host. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to sign the bill.

Peter Overby, NPR News, Washington.


Peter Overby has covered Washington power, money, and influence since a foresighted NPR editor created the beat in 1994.