“Oligarchs don’t get rich from not being friends with Putin.”
That’s why Bob Cashanan, a 69-year-old Vietnam veteran and a CPA, attended the Tax March on Washington on April 15.
“Just like a tax return needs to show where you got your mortgage from, we want to know his business dealings, and not just see his consolidated returns.”
More than 25,000 people attended the D.C. march, demanding that President Donald Trump release his tax returns, a practice that has been followed by every president since the late 1970s.
“Chicken-in-Chief, WHAT ARE YOU HIDING?” said one protestor’s sign, “President Putin Release Trump’s Taxes!” said another.
In response to the march, President Trump took to Twitter, saying “Someone should look into who paid for the small organized rallies yesterday. The election is over!”
In an April 17 news conference, press secretary Sean Spicer declined to say whether the president would authorize the IRS to release his tax returns.
“The president is under audit. It’s a routine one. It continues and I think the American public knows clearly where he stands. This is something he made clear during the elections,” Spicer said.
While the majority of marchers focused on Trump releasing his tax returns, others rallied around more general demands: transparency in government and a fairer tax system.
“We are taking the gloves off to say knock off business-as-usual taxation, where the nurse and the cop have their taxes taken right out of their wage and the high flyers get to pay what they want, when they want,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee.
Critics of efforts by Democratic lawmakers to pressure the president to disclose his returns--such as Forbes Contributor Ryan Ellis--called the attempts a “political stunt” and said he didn’t believe the march would gain them any ground. Ellis, who is a senior adviser for tax policy for the Conservative Reform Network, said that if Democrats are serious about taking this policy position, they should wait until 2024, when Trump wouldn’t be eligible to run.
Andy Grewal, a professor of law at the University of Iowa, told Bloomberg BNA that Trump was under no legal obligation to release his returns, and that the IRS is forbidden from disclosing anyone’s returns.
Among the speakers at the march was Anthony Atamanuik, a President Trump impersonator whose new show, “The President Show,” premiers April 27 on Comedy Central.
Atamanuik, dressed in full Trump attire, received a roar of boos as he stepped on stage, waving the crowd on and thanking them for coming to the event to “support him.”
“We’re all even. Am I a good president now?” Atamanuik asked the laughing crowd as he threw what he claimed were shreds of his tax returns.
Attendance at the more than 180 Tax March rallies conducted Saturday across 48 states totaled more than 100,000 protestors, according to the Tax March organizers.
Wyden has been a strong proponent of White House tax transparency, and told Bloomberg BNA that the march was just a step toward the fight for a fair tax system. In January, Wyden introduced the Presidential Tax Transparency Act, which would require the president and some presidential candidates to disclose federal income tax returns for the three most recent taxable years.
“We have done everything we could to be sensitive to this president, and I made the point back in early 2016 that this was the transition’s Watergate,” Wyden said, referring to Trump’s refusal to disclose his returns.
Wyden’s bill has been referred to the Committee on Rules and Administration.
Check out Talking Tax’s podcast on the march.
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