Members of the New York state Assembly made notable changes over the weekend to a prominent bill aimed at helping Congress obtain President Donald Trump's state tax returns.
Those changes include limiting the state tax returns available for Congress to access to those filed only by individuals serving in federal, state and local elected and higher-level public offices, along with entities those people control or have a large stake in.
Some critics said that the original bill was too broad, and that any taxpayer in New York state should be nervous with Congress now capable of obtaining their state tax returns.
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The legislation, expected to be voted on Wednesday, seeks to amend state law to permit the commissioner of the state Department of Taxation and Finance to release any state tax returns requested by the leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee or the Joint Committee on Taxation — the three congressional tax committees. Existing laws generally prohibit such a release.
The new version of the bill also changes the purpose for which the returns can be obtained — removing "specified and legitimate legislative purpose" — and replacing that with any "legitimate task" of the Congress. Additionally, the bill now requires that New York state redact any federal tax information that may appear alongside state returns.
"While I don't necessarily think that the amendments were required to get the bill passed, this and other (changes) made the bill stronger and better, and that's what the legislative process is all about," Democratic state Rep. David Buchwald, who is sponsoring the legislation, told NBC News.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat who has expressed support for the proposal, could sign the bill into law soon after.
"His office has been involved in discussions," Buchwald said of Cuomo's support for the legislative changes. Cuomo's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News.
Both the state Senate and state Assembly are under Democratic control.
New York's effort comes as the president's federal returns are at the center of a battle between House Democrats and the Treasury Department. Although New York would only provide access to Trump's state returns, those documents are likely to contain much of the same information congressional lawmakers are seeking from his federal returns since New York serves as the headquarters of the president's business, and is his home state.
Last week, the Treasury Department said it would not comply with congressional subpoenas to provide six years of Trump’s tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee — making it increasingly likely Democrats will fight for access to the returns in court. Federal law gives three congressional tax committees the unqualified right to obtain and review the otherwise confidential federal tax information of any taxpayer from the Treasury Department.