Lawyers for House Democrats are looking at a New York law that would give them a route to access President Donald Trump’s state tax returns.

“The House counsel is reviewing all of that right now,” House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal said Thursday. “They still have some legitimate concerns about it. That comes from House counsel, not me.”

Democrats have been seeking to obtain six years of the president’s federal personal and business returns since April. The Internal Revenue Service and Treasury Department have blocked Democrats’ repeated efforts to get the returns by invoking a federal law or issuing a subpoena. Neal escalated the conflict last week by suing the administration for the documents.

House Ways and Means Committee chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass.
House Ways and Means Committee chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The New York law, which Governor Andrew Cuomo signed this week, allows the chairmen of the congressional tax committees to request state tax information for many public officials who pay taxes in New York.

Neal, who is authorized to request the returns under the New York law, has been under pressure from progressive activists to take advantage of the new law, but has been hesitant to do so. Neal has said his committee needs the federal returns to determine whether the IRS is following its practice of auditing the president annually.

State and federal tax returns show much of the same information about income and tax breaks, although state filings don’t provide specifics on out-of-state income.

The Trump administration has disputed Neal’s presidential-audit reason, saying Congress just wants the president’s returns for political sport. A Democratic request for the New York returns, which are unrelated to IRS audits, could bolster the White House’s position.

But Democrats are nevertheless eager for Neal to use all available options to gain insight into the president’s personal and business financial obligations.

“While New York’s information doesn’t answer all the questions out there, we should take a look at it,” said Representative Lloyd Doggett, a Texas Democrat.

Trump bucked decades of tradition in refusing to release his tax returns when he ran for president. He has said voters don’t care about his taxes and that the financial disclosures he’s already released are more than adequate.

Bloomberg News

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