TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Hemel:  Can New York Publish President Trump's State Tax Returns?

Trump Tax ReturnsFollowing up on my previous post, The Quick And Easy Way To See Trump’s Tax Returns:  Daniel Hemel (Chicago), Can New York Publish President Trump's State Tax Returns?, 127 Yale L.J. Forum ___ (2017): 

Breaking from a decades-old norm of presidential tax transparency, Donald Trump has refused to make his federal income tax returns available for public inspection. Congressional leaders have blocked bipartisan legislation that would compel the President to disclose his returns. New York State, however, has a unique opportunity to ensure that the practice of presidential tax transparency endures. As a longtime New York resident, President Trump files state tax returns that contain most of the information found in his federal filings. A bill pending in the New York State Legislature would direct state tax authorities to release returns filed by the President and statewide elected officials. If the bill becomes state law, it will do much to protect the norm of presidential tax transparency from Trump’s attack.

This essay considers the legal issues surrounding New York’s potential disclosure of President Trump’s state tax returns. It anticipates and addresses arguments that state disclosure would violate the Bill of Attainder Clause, the constitutional right to privacy, due process limits on retroactivity, and restrictions on state interference in national political processes. It also examines federal laws protecting taxpayer privacy and considers whether New York’s publication of the President’s state tax filings would violate the Internal Revenue Code’s prohibition on disclosure of returns and return information. The essay concludes that federal law does not prevent New York from adopting and enacting legislation that would require the release of the President’s state tax returns. New York can—and, this essay argues, should—publish the President’s state tax returns if Trump himself and his allies in Congress refuse to act.

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2017/04/hemelcan-new-york-publish-president-trumps-state-tax-returns.html

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Comments

Is this satire? "Any official who does not want to be covered by the law has
the option of resigning." "One cannot definitively rule out the possibility that a retroactivity-based argument would sway Supreme Court justices or lower court judges. As noted above in the discussion of privacy, new doctrines can be fashioned for new circumstances. My own view is that, given the lack of precedential support for such a position, any holding to this effect would appear to be politically motivated."

Posted by: anon | Apr 27, 2017 12:17:09 PM

Perhaps Trump did not "follow a decades of norm" (read practice) of releasing hs tax returns. So what? Why the obsession? Trump is also the first politician who was a major businessman.

Tax returns show income, so we cannot determine Trump's wealth, particularly since it is tied up in non liquid real estate.

I have seen many returns that are not clear on the source of certain income - Trump got it from russians.

Do you want to see if Trump took charitable deductions like Bill Clinton who claimed a $3 deduction for his used underwear, which thanks to Arsenio we know were briefs. (How poor do you have to be to wear a strangers briefs?)

The author " anticipates and addresses arguments that state disclosure would violate the Bill of Attainder Clause, the constitutional right to privacy, due process limits on retroactivity, and restrictions on state interference in national political processes. It also examines federal laws protecting taxpayer privacy and considers whether New York’s publication of the President’s state tax filings would violate the Internal Revenue Code’s prohibition on disclosure of returns and return information." That's some list of hurdles.

My guess is that the legal issues would be decided by Trump's 6th or 7th year in office.

The games afoot.

Posted by: aircav65 | Apr 27, 2017 12:35:46 PM