GOP scoffs at law allowing release of Trump's state taxes

President Donald Trump speaks at Morristown Municipal Airport in Morristown, N.J., Sunday. Trump’s New York state tax returns could be given to Congress under a new law in his home state. The measure was signed into law Monday by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

ALBANY, N.Y. — President Donald Trump’s New York tax returns could be given to Congress under a new law in his home state that was signed Monday by the Democratic governor and dismissed by Republicans as a partisan game that wouldn’t stand up in court.

The measure signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo directs state tax officials to share state returns of certain elected and appointed officials upon written request from the chairpersons of one of three committees: House Ways and Means, Senate Finance or Joint Committee on Taxation.

Designed to give Congress a way around the Republican president’s refusal to release his returns, the new law is expected to face legal challenges. And it’s unclear whether Congress will request access to Trump’s state returns, which tax experts say would include many of the same details as his federal return.

“No one person — no matter what office they might hold — is above the law,” said Sen. Brad Hoylman, a Manhattan Democrat and the Senate sponsor of the legislation.

All sides expect legal challenges and requests for injunctions, meaning it could be many months before any state tax returns are handed over. The White House did not return a message seeking comment Monday on the law.

Trump has long filed taxes in New York as a resident of the state. He is the first president since Watergate to decline to make his returns public, often claiming that he would release them if he were not under audit.

The president has not weighed in on the new law but has repeatedly accused New York Democrats of using their positions to harass him and his allies. Republicans in New York say that while the law was written to target Trump, it could be used to go after any other official who pays taxes in the state.

“This is purely political,” state Republican Party Chairman Nick Langworthy told reporters Monday. “It is an attempt to settle political scores.”

Langworthy predicted the law “will never stand up in the courts.”

Democrats are eager to get ahold of the returns, which could reveal details about his business dealings, his debts and international financial ties.

If Congress does request and obtain Trump’s state tax returns, that doesn’t mean the public gets to see them. Under federal law, the confidential information in the returns is supposed to be for the committee’s eyes only.

To address concerns about the tax privacy of everyday New Yorkers, state lawmakers narrowed the measure so it applies only to the state income tax returns elected officials, party leaders and top public officials, like judges — as well as any businesses or legal entities they control.

In addition, state tax officials would be required to redact personal information, such as Social Security numbers or personal addresses, before handing over the documents.

Top lawmakers in Washington have differed on whether congressional committees should make use of the new law.

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