NY state legislature votes to make Trump tax returns available

New York State Attorney General Letitia James stands at a podium

The New York state Legislature has approved a bill that authorizes the release of President Donald Trump's state tax returns to Congress, and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has indicated he will approve the legislation.

The bills don't target Trump by name but would allow the leaders of three congressional committees to access any NY returns filed by elected officials and top appointed officials.

U.S. taxpayers generally submit two income tax returns: one to federal tax authorities and the other to state officials.

After a first vote in the state Senate earlier this month, the state Assembly, a Democratic stronghold, adopted the measure, according to a spokeswoman.

New York Republicans have denounced the legislation as a politically motivated attack on privacy.

Much of the information submitted in NY state tax returns is similar to that on federal forms.

Trump has refused to release any of his tax returns, breaking a decades-long tradition of US presidents making their personal finances public to demonstrate that they have no conflicts of interest. Also on Wednesday, a federal judge in NY refused to block congressional subpoenas seeking financial records from two banks, Deutsche Bank and Capital One, that did business with Trump.

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While it does not mention Trump or anyone else specifically, the legislation would make his tax returns, as well as the Trump Organization's returns, up for grabs.

While a focus of Democrats at the federal level has been Trump's alleged attempts to obstruct special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, the president has also been involved in a number of scandals tracing back to his days as a private citizen in NY.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said he wouldn't comply with a congressional subpoena seeking six years of the president's tax returns, in part because the request "lacks a legitimate legislative goal". But the state returns provide similar information and could prove useful to Democrats' investigations.

Under the law tax return information is supposed to be kept confidential.

Trump and Democrats who control the U.S. House of Representatives are locked in a battle over their ability to investigate him.

Earlier this month, the Treasury Department refused to provide the House Ways and Means Committee Trump's taxes, claiming the request from the committee chair, Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), was unlawful. They require that the returns be requested "for a specified and legitimate legislative objective", wording that could ostensibly give state officials the ability to refuse some requests they felt were primarily political in nature.

On Tuesday, New York state lawmakers adopted another anti-Trump text, this one aimed at allowing state prosecutors to go after recipients of presidential pardons - including those in Trump's inner circle.

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