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Can a gay New York City councilman force Trump to release his taxes?

Trump tax returns
Corey Johnson is taking on President Trump.Photo: Johnson/Twitter, Steve Jurvetson/Flickr

Can New York City councilman Corey Johnson do what Rachel Maddow only pretend at? Johnson plans to introduce legislation that would require President Donald Trump to release his taxes or face losing his contracts with the City of New York.

Trump has still failed to release his taxes, despite calls for him to do so and his promises during the campaign to get right to it after he is done being audited. There is no reason he couldn’t have released them during an audit, breaking longstanding tradition for those running for the country’s highest office to do so.

Adviser Kellyanne Conway said in January that Trump won’t release his taxes after all, claiming public disinterest in the matter.

Johnson’s plan would force the president’s hand, as explained in a press release:

The legislation would specifically require certain executives of organizations who are named in the entities holding City concessions – and pay $0 to the City – to disclose their personal income tax returns. This criteria applies to Trump Ferry Point LLC, the company behind Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point, a golf course on public property in the Bronx.

Every year, the Office of the City Chief of Procurement Officer prepares a report on all concessions that are binding on the City in the reporting year. One of the required reporting categories is “Approximate Gross Revenues Received” for that year, which refers to the amount the concessionaire is paying to the City. For a select few contract (concession) holders, the entry is consistently $0. One of the concession holders is Trump Ferry Point, LLC. This means that the Trump Organization is paying nothing to the City for the privilege of operating a private golf course on public property in the Bronx.

The City Council has the power to require more transparency from the organizations that are receiving such generous terms from the City. This would be achieved by the passage of a Local Law that amends these requirements in the Administrative Code.

“He’s making tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars off of city property with his name emblazoned all over it,” Johnson said, the New York Daily News reports, “and this is a leverage point to try to peek into his tax returns.”

Related: Watch ‘Gays For Trump’ leader get annihilated on CNN

Johnson added 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. 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.”

The New York Daily News notes that the company isn’t required to remit licensing fees to the city for the golf course until 2019. If passed, Trump or his relatives at the company would have to submit their taxes annually, so long as it continues to not provide New York City with any profit, and every three years as part of Vendex questionnaires.

The Mayor’s Office of Contract Services requires Vendex questionnaires for procurements of funding totaling over $100,000 within a 12 month period.

States have introduced legislation requiring anyone running for president to release their taxes, including in New York, where Sen. Brad Hoylman introduced the Tax Returns Uniformly Made Public, or TRUMP, Act.

Johnson’s bill is still being drafted and is expected to be introduced next month.

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