By JILLIAN JORGENSEN
Wednesday, April 12
Just in time for Tax Day — and protests of President Trump that are planned to accompany it — one city councilman is hoping to use Trump’s city golf course as leverage to get a look at his tax returns.
Councilman Corey Johnson plans to introduce legislation that would require a very specific subset of vendors with contracts for city concessions to turn over the “personal tax returns of any individual named in the entity.”
How specific is it? It only applies to one vendor: Trump Ferry Point LLC, the company behind Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point, the massively expensive municipal golf course in the Bronx that Trump’s ompany now runs.
“He’s making tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars off of city property with his name emblazoned all over it,” Johnson (D-Manhattan) said, “and this is a leverage point to try to peek into his tax returns.”
Trump refused to release his tax returns while running for President, brushing off decades of political norms that saw candidates turn them over for the inspection of the press and the public.
While some pages of past returns have since leaked, activists are continuing to ask for full disclosure — a request that will be highlighted at Tax Day marches planned for this weekend.
This wouldn’t be the first bit of local legislation aimed at getting to Trump’s tax returns.
State Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) introduced the Tax Returns Uniformly Made Public, or TRUMP, Act, which would require anyone running for president on a ballot in New York to turn over their tax returns. Many other states have since introduced similar legislation.
But Johnson’s bill, which is still being drafted and would likely be introduced next month, is exceedingly narrowly tailored in an effort to avoid having it apply to anyone with city concessions contracts outside the Trump family.
It applies only to non-public benefit organizations that have concessions that generate $0 in “approximate gross revenue received” — a small group of companies that includes Trump Ferry Point LLC, since the company isn’t required to remit licensing fees to the city for the golf course until 2019.
The legislation would require the disclosure “the personal tax returns of any individual named in the entity entering into the concession agreement” — and Trump Ferry Point is the only vendor with an individual name in it.
If passed, the law would mean any one of those individuals — in this case, Donald Trump or his relatives at the company — would have to release their tax returns annually, as long as the company doesn’t provide the city profit, and as part of Vendex questionnaires, filed every three years.
Johnson admitted the Council typically doesn’t make laws aimed at a single person.
“But what I have a bigger problem with is the fact that the President of the United States has refused to make his tax returns public so Americans know what his business dealings and interests are,” Johnson said. “He’s someone who has talked about being able to exploit loopholes in the tax code, so this is a way to try to understand what loopholes he’s exploiting.”
Trump’s concessions with the city have come under scrutiny before, with local elected officials making noise about reviewing the contracts following the then-candidates comments about Mexicans in his kick-off speech.
But Trump argued that would be a violation of his freedom of speech, and the city eventually determined it had no legal way to back out of its deals with Trump at the golf course, as well as a carousel and Wollman Rink in Central Park.
A Trump Organization spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.