Push to Obtain Trump’s N.Y. Tax Returns Wins Cuomo’s Support

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For more than two years, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has railed against President Trump, attacking his policies on everything from immigration and reproductive rights to his handling of the disaster response in Puerto Rico.

Now, Mr. Cuomo, a third-term Democrat, has said he would throw his weight behind an attempt to obtain what may be some of the president’s most sensitive secrets: those that could be buried in Mr. Trump’s state tax returns.

Mr. Cuomo’s office said late Monday that it would back a new bill that would permit the New York Department of Taxation and Finance to release any state tax return — including the president’s — if it were requested by leaders of three congressional committees for any “specified and legitimate legislative purpose.”

The office had originally suggested on Monday that the intensifying legislative efforts to obtain those documents could “politicize the process,” even allowing that “transparency and disclosure is vital.” But hours later, it clarified Mr. Cuomo’s position.

“As long as it applies to everybody,” said Richard Azzopardi, a senior adviser to the governor, “we support it.”

The bill, sponsored by State Senator Brad Hoylman, a Manhattan Democrat, was expected to be debated by the Democratic majority in Albany’s upper chamber this week, according to a Senate official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the bill had not yet been formally discussed in conference. Under that timetable, the bill could be set up for passage after the upcoming recess, which ends April 29.

It is just one of three similarly themed bills currently circulating in Albany, including the New York Truth Act, which would permit the state tax department to release five years of state income tax returns from eight federal and state officials, including the president, if they earn income in New York.

Originally introduced in 2017, the New York Truth Act foundered in the Assembly after concerns were raised about the mass release of politicians’ tax information. Since then, however, the Assembly sponsor, David Buchwald, a Westchester County Democrat, said he has solidified the support of more than 90 Assembly members — more than enough to pass a bill in that chamber. Mr. Hoylman, the Senate sponsor, has said he also has commitments from a majority of Senate members to pass the bill.

Carl E. Heastie, the Democratic speaker of the Assembly, said that “there seems to be nationwide desire” to see Mr. Trump’s taxes, and that his chamber would discuss the bill after the spring recess. He also said that any proposal to seek state tax returns — which would likely contain much of the same information as the president’s contested federal returns — would need to be vetted by lawyers.

Mr. Trump, who is from New York and whose business is still headquartered here, has steadfastly refused to release his federal tax returns. And while Republicans suggested that the attempts by the Democrat-led Legislature were partisan, both Mr. Hoylman and Mr. Buchwald defended their bills, saying that voters had a right to know about Mr. Trump’s personal and business finances.

“Making sure that the public has information about the man currently in the White House is something that I feel is incumbent upon us to make sure is released,” Mr. Buchwald said, adding, “There’s a copy of President Trump’s New York State tax returns right here in New York State, in an office somewhere.”

Both lawmakers said that the urgency of their bills had increased since last week, after a request from the House Ways and Means Committee chairman, Representative Richard E. Neal of Massachusetts, to release six years of Mr. Trump’s federal returns by April 10. The I.R.S. and the Treasury Department in Washington are still deciding whether to comply with that request, but on Sunday, the White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, said that Democrats would “never” see the president’s tax returns.

Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff, a former commissioner of taxation and finance under Gov. George E. Pataki, said that Mr. Hoylman’s bill would “generate furious and lengthy litigation” if passed, because of federal laws protecting tax information.

“The I.R.S. and others will likely argue that most New York return information is based on protected federal return information,” Mr. Sidamon-Eristoff said. “Disaggregating the information will be a major practical challenge, if not impossible.”

In January, Mr. Cuomo had proposed a plan to have all candidates for statewide and legislative office release several years worth of returns, but the measure did not advance. Mr. Cuomo allows reporters to see his taxes every April, but does not allow copies to be made.

The bill introduced on Monday by Mr. Hoylman would amend current state laws that generally prohibit such private tax information from being released, and would cover a broad range of filings, including personal income taxes, corporation taxes and real estate transfer taxes. Under it, the chairman of any of three congressional committees — the Senate Finance Committee; the House Ways and Means Committee; and the Joint Committee on Taxation — could request tax returns from the New York tax department, which would be authorized to release the information.

Mr. Hoylman is also the sponsor of a third bill that would require candidates for president and vice president to reveal their past tax returns in order to appear on primary and general election ballots, a strategy tried by lawmakers in more than a dozen other states.

On Monday, Mr. Hoylman said that he would be happy with the passage of any of the three pending bills.

“I don’t care how we get it done, frankly,” Mr. Hoylman said. “I want the route that is most politically feasible, which I’m certain is the one the Legislature will follow.”

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