Westchester’s Buchwald steps into Trump tax turmoil

State Assemblyman David Buchwald, a Democrat who represents the 93rd District, told the Business Journal that the Assembly’s passage of his TRUST Act “stands for a broader principle that top public officials should be totally transparent about what potential conflicts of interest they have and our president hasn’t done that.”

The legislation, adopted in the Assembly on May 22 by a vote of 84-53, authorizes the commissioner of the state’s Department of Taxation and Finance to release state tax returns of federal, state and local public officials and returns of entities that they control or in which they are significant shareholders, if requested by the three tax committees of the U.S. Congress.

The state Senate’s version of the bill, sponsored by Brad Hoylman, a Manhattan Democrat, passed on May 8 by a vote of 39-22. Gov. Andrew Cuomo expressed support for the legislation and was expected to sign it into law.

The legislation enables the state to provide Congress with President Donald Trump’s tax returns or those of other officials if requested by the chairpersons of the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee or the Joint Committee on Taxation.

New York state already shares tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service and the tax departments of other states. The New York state tax returns include federal tax information, so obtaining filings from the state would be a way for Congress to obtain tax information Trump has consistently refused to release, at first claiming that he could not do so because he was under audit. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has refused to turn Trump’s returns over to Congress despite a law stating that he must do so.

“I’ve carried legislation for two years on this topic to make sure that top public officials’ tax returns are available either to the public, or now making them available to the peoples’ representatives in Congress. Ultimately, this topic wouldn’t have come up had the president not abandoned years of precedent of making returns available to the public and had his Secretary of the Treasury not denied Congress’ rights to access tax returns,” Buchwald said.

Buchwald, whose district covers Bedford, Harrison, Lewisboro, Mount Kisco, New Castle, North Castle, North Salem, Pound Ridge and White Plains, explained that the legislation is limited in scope.

“We’ve made sure that the final legislation only applies to elected officials, top appointees in government and the entities that they control or that they are significant shareholders of, so the average New Yorker, the average business in New York, is not going to be exposed to it. These congressional committees are supposed to already have access to every American’s tax return through the Internal Revenue Code. So the fact that that’s not happening with the current president is part of why we’re making sure New York’s state tax returns are available to the Congress,” he said.

At a news conference while the legislation was pending, Buchwald expressed “strong confidence” that Trump is “hiding something” and “I think it doesn’t take too much human intuition to understand there’s something the president desperately does not want to reveal.”

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