On Saturday, April 15, demonstrations were held nationwide to demand that President Donald Trump release his tax returns.
The protests refer to Trump’s failure to release his tax returns, which would reveal how much he paid in taxes and where he owed money to.
Trump promised many times in statements and rallies during the 2016 presidential election that he would release his tax forms before Election Day, but he entered office with nothing having been released.
“This is not just about his tax returns,” the Tax March website read in its statement of purpose. “President Trump needs to be straight with the American people. To whom does he owe favors? Who are his policies really intended to benefit? Who will he put first? Working families are struggling to make ends meet, but we pay our fair share in taxes – does Donald Trump pay any at all?”
Demonstrations were held in around 150 cities nationwide, including Raleigh, Washington DC, New York City and Orlando. International protests were also formed in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Germany and Japan.
The event was spearheaded by Vermont Law School professor Jennifer Taub, who was inspired by January’s Women’s March. The concept stemmed from a January tweet by Taub, which was subsequently passed on by comedians and entertainment creators.
“I impulsively shot off a tweet at two in the afternoon,” Taub said, as quoted by The Guardian, “and by the next morning, I’d created a movement.”
The Tax March Executive Committee consisted of Taub, Income Security & Education Vice President Anna Chu, National Working Families Party Senior Political Strategist Delvone Michael, Indivisible Project Executive Director Ezra Levin, Philadelphia community organizer Gwen Snyder, Georgetown Center on Poverty & Inequality Co-Executive Director Indivar Dutta-Gupta, humor writer Maura Quint and Working Families Party National Membership Director Nelini Stamp.
The marches had a peaceful approach, with the organizing group emphasizing de-escalation in the case of disagreements. The statement also emphasized compliance with law enforcement.
By not releasing his tax returns, Trump broke with decades of tradition, going back as far as Harry Truman. Gerald Ford and George W. Bush stand as exceptions, releasing summaries and partial forms respectively.
“Trump claims no one cares about his taxes,” writer Frank Lesser said in a January 2017 tweet. “The next mass protest should be on Tax Day to prove him wrong.”
The non-release prompted criticism, with some speculating that Trump was hiding low tax payment or debts to foreign interests.
Trump has released his taxes only once, in 2005, according to TaxHistory.org
Shortly after Trump’s inauguration, Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway confirmed that the President had no intention of releasing his tax returns.
“He’s not going to release his tax returns,” Conway said on ABC, two days post-inauguration. “We litigated this all through the election. People didn’t care.”
The Tax March organization stated that presidential transparency was a key motivation in their protest, holding up Trump’s unreleased tax returns as indicative of opaque practices.
“We, the American people, are standing together with a common belief in the value of transparency in government, fairness in taxation, and the value of our Constitution,” the Tax March statement read. “We will march together against any forces — corporate or political — that oppose it.”