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N.Y. lawmakers pass bill to release Trump's state tax returns

By Clyde Hughes & Danielle Haynes
N.Y. lawmakers pass bill to release Trump's state tax returns
President Donald Trump speaks to reporters Tuesday during a meeting with Slovakian Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini in the Oval Office of the White House. Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo

May 8 (UPI) -- The New York Senate approved a bill Wednesday giving state lawmakers access to President Donald Trump's state tax returns -- fiscal records the president has refused to make public for four years.

Votes on the bill were largely along party lines; lawmakers anticipated its passage ahead of time. Officials also expect the State Assembly to pass the legislation.

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In addition to the bill addressing tax returns, the Senate passed legislation closing a loophole for anyone Trump might pardon. Under the loophole, anyone pardoned would have been protected from New York state prosecutors.

Trump hasn't disclosed any tax information since announcing his candidacy in mid-2015. While he's refused repeated calls by lawmakers to release his federal tax returns, his New York state returns could contain much of the same information.

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The latest refusal came Monday, when Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin rejected a request from the House Ways and Means Committee, which he said lacked a "legitimate legislative purpose."

The wording of the legislation passed Wednesday allows the Department of Taxation and Finance to release Trump's returns to lawmakers, state Sen. Brad Hoylman said.

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"This is an issue of utmost national importance," Hoylman said. "We could actually help avoid a constitutional showdown if New York could actually step in and provide the state tax returns of Donald Trump."

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State Senate Republican leader John Flanagan said Democrats can't deny the bill is partisan in nature and targets Trump on behalf of the federal lawmakers who've been unsuccessful in obtaining the president's tax records.

"This is a blatantly political act," Flanagan said. "The issues that are taking place at the federal government level should be within the purview and authority of the federal government."

If the bill passes the New York Legislature, it will likely be signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who endorsed the effort seeking Trump's state returns last month.

The New York Times reported Tuesday it gained access to Trump's federal returns between 1985 and 1994, which showed documented losses exceeding $1 billion. The information was based on data obtained from Trump's Internal Revenue Service tax transcripts over that period.

The Times report said the documents showed Trump was so indebted that he avoided paying taxes for eight of the 10 years in that span.

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"Real estate developers in the 1980's & 1990's, more than 30 years ago, were entitled to massive write offs and depreciation which would, if one was actively building, show losses and tax losses in almost all cases," Trump answered Wednesday. "Much was non monetary. Sometimes considered 'tax shelter,' you would get it by building, or even buying.

"You always wanted to show losses for tax purposes ... almost all real estate developers did -- and often re-negotiate with banks, it was sport. Additionally, the very old information put out is ... highly inaccurate."

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