Americans Protest Against Trump For Avoiding To Declare Tax Returns


Frustration with President Donald Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns imbued the Tax March rally at the State Capitol on Saturday.

Hundreds attended the rally, which was held in conjunction with about 200 other rallies across the country on the day when tax returns are usually due. (This year’s due date is Tuesday, April 18.)

On a large scale, the Tax March focused on financial accountability for government and elected officials, and many of this year’s speakers stayed close to that theme.

“When we check in with our members, this is something they care about deeply,” said Ben Wikler, Washington director of MoveOn.org, a progressive political group.

“Let’s all be fair,” said emcee Pippi Ardennia. “This has no partisanship. This is all about following the money. Why aren’t we getting transparency?”

“This corruption makes people feel like they can’t trust their government, because they can’t see what’s going on,” said Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minneapolis.

Among the marchers was an oversized inflatable rooster, sporting an angry expression and a sweeping metallic orange hairdo meant to resemble Trump’s signature style.

“Thanks to Trump, I think that releasing your taxes when you run for president now has to be a law,” said New Yorker Marni Halasa, 51, who arrived in a tutu and leggings made of fake dollar bills and holding a sign that read “Show Me The Money!”

Although organizers of the Tax March were careful to stress the rally would not be “a political party issue,” dissatisfaction with Trump and perceptions that he is influenced by foreign and financial interests emerged as prominent themes. Trump is the first U.S. president since the 1970s to not voluntarily release his tax returns and has been dogged by accusations of unethical conduct for not fully separating himself from his real estate and hospitality empire while in office.

“He’s got more entanglements than a game of Twister with 1,000 people,” said St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman.

Keynote speaker Richard Painter was less glib, as he is associated with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which has sued President Trump for allegedly violating the Constitution, and Painter has been a vocal critic of Trump since the president’s inauguration.

“Money is what decided our election in 2016,” he said. “That’s where we need to draw the line.”

“Our independence is at stake here,” he added.

“Thanks to Trump, I think that releasing your taxes when you run for president now has to be a law,” said New Yorker Marni Halasa, 51, who arrived in a tutu and leggings made of fake dollar bills and holding a sign that read “Show Me The Money!”

In Washington, more than 1,500 protesters gathered on the front lawn of the U.S. Capitol, where members of Congress addressed the crowd before it marched to the Lincoln Memorial.

“We are taking the gloves off to say knock off the secrecy Mr. President,” said Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, which would play a leading role in tax reform measures being considered in Congress.

He described Trump’s refusal to release his taxes as being “like a teenager trying to hide a lousy report card.”

TAX REFORM

Among the marchers was Melinda Colwell, 34, a stay-at-home-mother from Ledyard, Connecticut. She said she was concerned that conflicts of interest in Trump’s tax returns might foreshadow selfish interests in his tax reform policies.

“I think it’s important to know how that could influence his decisions and how he could benefit from the decisions being made,” she said.

As a candidate and as president, Trump has refused to release his tax returns, citing an ongoing audit by the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS has said that Trump can release his tax returns even while under audit.

The White House could not be reached immediately for comment on the marches.

Events were also planned in cities in Europe, Japan and New Zealand.

The marches were launched by a single tweet, organizers said. A day after the massive Jan. 21 women’s march in Washington and other cities, comedy writer Frank Lesser tapped out on Twitter, “Trump claims no one cares about his taxes. The next mass protest should be on Tax Day to prove him wrong.” It has been retweeted more than 21,000 times.

In Los Angeles, television director Mike Stutz turned up at the march dressed in costume as a Russian general and said he was called General Bullshitski. He carried a sign that read: “What Tax Returns? Putin paid cash. Trust your oligarchs,” referring to allegations of contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia, led by President Vladimir Putin.

Joe Dinkin, spokesman for the Working Families Party, one of the groups organizing the marches, said investigations into the Trump campaign’s alleged connections to Russia underscore the need to disclose his returns.

“Without seeing his taxes, we’ll never really know who he’s working for,” said Dinkin, who expects the marches to draw at least 100,000 protesters.

There have been some glimpses into Trump’s tax history. Last month, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow reported on two pages of Trump’s 2005 return that were obtained by investigative reporter David Cay Johnston and released by DCReport.org. They showed Trump paid $38 million in taxes on more than $150 million in income.

And in October, The New York Times reported that Trump had declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 federal tax return, citing three pages of documents from the return.

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