US protesters call on Trump to release tax returns, suggest he’s ‘too chicken’

For decades, US presidents and presidential candidates have released their returns voluntarily, although there is no legal obligation to do so

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 April, 2017, 5:39pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 April, 2017, 10:23pm

Some wore shirts with an image of US President Donald Trump as the Monopoly mascot hauling a bag of money. Others taunted the president with signs that said they would show him their taxes, if he showed them his. And in front of a few thousand people on the lawn of the US Capitol there was an oversized inflatable chicken with hair resembling Trump’s, suggesting the president is “too chicken” to release his taxes to the public.

From Seattle to the District of Columbia, protesters gathered in cities throughout the country Saturday calling on Trump to release his personal tax returns as part of a nationwide Tax March. The protest falls on the country’s traditionally recognised deadline to file taxes, April 15.

Watch: protesters march in US cities to demand Trump release tax returns

In all, dozens of protests occurred throughout the country. The main march unfolded in the nation’s capital, where protesters gathered for a rally in front of the Capitol and then marched west along Pennsylvania Avenue. In South Florida, activists marched to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, where the president is staying this weekend. Thousands more gathered at a large march in New York City, where activists, comedians and a state senator spoke. Many of the protests featured an inflatable chicken, a mascot of sorts for the march.

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Presidents are not required to release their tax returns but have done so voluntarily dating to the 1970s. Activists and others say it is the only way to be fully open about any potential conflicts of interest.

In the nation’s capital, the crowd was mostly filled with locals and Spring Break tourists, some of whom purposely planned their trips to coincide with the march.

C.J. Ingram, a DC resident in her 50s who works in a funeral home, attended the march, her first protest during Trump’s presidency.

“I’m really mad because he made Barack Obama produce his birth certificate, and he’s not even producing his tax returns,” Ingram said.

“Come on, really? What are you hiding?”

Trump has refused to release his tax returns, stating that he has been under audit. Asked for comment Thursday on the Tax March, the White House referred to comments last week from press secretary Sean Spicer, who repeated that Trump is under an IRS audit, but indicated the president has been transparent with his finances.

The non-profit, Electronic Privacy Information Centre filed suit in D.C. federal court Saturday over Trump’s tax returns, arguing there is a provision in IRS regulations that allows their release.

Jennifer Taub, a professor at Vermont Law School, said the purpose of the march is also call on lawmakers to pass tax reforms that don’t only benefit the richest Americans. And, of course, she said she hopes citizens can compel the president to release his taxes to ensure he has no conflicts of interest.

“I do care about his taxes. I care about transparency and conflict of interest,” Taub said in an interview last week.

“I think it’s important for us, we the people, to express First Amendment rights and say we want to see them.”