Disclosing tax returns would not be optional for candidates in NY, under new bills

Photo via @realDonaldTrump

As Americans were filing their taxes this week, Sen. Brad Hoylman and other New York state lawmakers were touting a series of bills that would force any presidential candidate to disclose their tax returns if they want to be an eligible candidate in New York.

One of Hoylman’s bills (S.2271) would require the disclosure of tax returns by statewide elected public officials including the president of the United States, the vice president of the United States, New York’s United States senators, governor, lieutenant governor, comptroller, and attorney general.

This legislation would make tax information and returns of high ranking statewide elected officials in New York State available to the public for the duration of that official’s time in office. It would also provide for the availability of an official’s tax information and returns for the preceding five years before the official took office.

That bill has 32 co-sponsors in the Senate. The Assembly version (A.1390) is sponsored by David Buchwald.

“Today, as millions of New Yorkers file their taxes, we are reminded that Donald Trump has yet to disclose his tax returns, citing an ongoing audit—although there is no Internal Revenue Service rule stopping him from doing so,” Hoylman said.

“The practice of releasing tax returns is a political norm for a reason: candidates seeking higher office should be held to a higher standard of transparency. Behaving ethically is not optional.”

Another of Hoylman’s bills (S.32-a) would prevent any elector who is representing the New York State Electoral College from voting for any presidential or vice presidential candidate who did not disclose their tax returns. That bill has 30 co-sponsors. The Assembly version (A.4493-a) is sponsored by Patricia Fahy, D-Albany.

Over the last several decades, it has become common political practice for candidates and officials to release their tax information for at least one year before they are elected office, gaining a certain level of trust from their voter-base and community.

In 2016, Donald Trump refused to release his tax return forms, ending a streak of U.S. presidents, beginning with Jimmy Carter, who have at least posted one year of tax returns prior to being elected.

A new bill, introduced April 8 by Hoylman (S.5072) would authorize the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance to share state income tax information with a requesting Congressional committee.

This proposal authorizes the Commissioner of the state Department of Taxation and Finance to furnish state tax return or return information upon written request of the chairperson of the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee or the Joint Committee on Taxation.

That bill has 32 co-sponsors and resides in the Budget and Revenue Committee. The Assembly version (A.7194) is sponsored by David Buchwald.

“The American people deserve to know whether their elected officials are using public office to enrich themselves, or governing with conflicts of interest,” Hoylman said. “If Washington fails to give the American people the transparency they deserve, New York must take the lead.”