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July 16, 2019

New York State legislators have a better shot of bringing President Trump’s taxes into the light than D.C. does

February 7, 2019
Show and tell. (Twitter)

Thursday’s hearing of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight on “legislative proposals and tax law related to presidential and vice-presidential tax returns” will be but an academic exercise as newly-empowered Washington Democrats scratch around trying to find a kosher way to publicly release Donald Trump’s long-hidden 1040s.

Let them try. But a far likelier path to public scrutiny of actual copies of Trump’s personal returns — which could reveal tax-avoidance strategies, conflicts of interest and who knows what else — runs through Albany, where state Sen. Brad Hoylman and Assemblyman David Buchwald have a bill with more than a puncher’s chance of success.

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Their idea, from University of Chicago Law Prof. Daniel Hemel, is for New York to require the state Department of Taxation and Finance to post the state personal income tax returns of all statewide elected officials (with Social Security and bank account numbers removed). That would include the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, controller, U.S. senators, President and vice president: They represent us, so we have a right to know a few basics about their personal finances.

Hoylman and Buchwald first introduced the measure in 2017; GOP control of the Senate made it a dead letter.

It’s a new day. The Assembly bill has 66 sponsors and soon will have more than 76, a majority. The Senate version has 20 backers, on the way to the magic 32.

Washington is toying with a bill to promulgate the returns of the Prez and Veep. It will never pass the Senate, and even if it did, Trump would veto it. A more realistic option is for the Ways and Means chairman to privately examine Trump’s return; Trump and the IRS are spoiling for a fight there, too.

Gov. Cuomo should get behind the Hoylman-Buchwald bill. It’s the best way to get this done.

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