Mon, Apr 17, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Protesters press Trump to release tax returns

AFP, WASHINGTON

Protesters in Los Angeles, California, on Saturday take part in a “Tax March,” calling on US President Donald Trump to release his tax records.

Photo: AFP

Thousands of protesters on Saturday gathered in cities across the US to pressure US President Donald Trump to release his tax returns, a move of transparency he has refused to make.

“Until he does, we’ll never know what he’s hiding or who his policies are designed to benefit. We need a president who works for all Americans — and a tax system that does, too,” the organizers of the “Tax March” demonstrations said on its Web site.

The protests were timed to coincide with the traditional April 15 deadline for annual US tax filings.

In Washington, several thousand protesters of all ages gathered in front of the Capitol building housing Congress, holding signs with slogans such as “What is he hiding?” and “Real men pay their taxes.”

A huge inflatable chicken with an orange-gold beak and a swirl of hair resembling Trump’s was displayed on the sidelines of the Washington protest and at other venues.

The figure — seen by some as the unofficial mascot for the protest — apparently meant to suggest that the Republican president was afraid, or chicken, to publish his tax records.

“If he’s got nothing to hide, he should release his tax returns,” protester Liz Turner, 31, said.

Asked what she suspected was in them, Turner said: “Maybe something to do with Russia?”

Ellen Lodwick, 67, a retired corporate researcher from Maryland who has participated in all the local anti-Trump demonstrations since his November 8 election last year, cast doubt on his business dealings.

“There are probably many illegal or questionable investments in things that could affect how he looks at government and legislation, because he’s too connected,” Lodwick said.

The protesters then marched along Pennsylvania Avenue in the direction of the White House, shouting “shame” as they passed by the Trump International Hotel.

In New York City, thousands of protesters also marched, and demonstrations were held from Boston and Philadelphia on the east coast; to Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles out west and cities and towns in between.

In Berkeley, California, violent clashes erupted between Trump supporters and opponents.

At least 14 people were arrested, Berkeley police spokesman Byron White told CNN television.

For decades, US presidents and presidential candidates have released their tax returns voluntarily, although there is no legal requirement to do so. US law requires only the publication of a financial statement that estimates assets, including debt and revenue, but does not give details on the amount of taxes paid.

Trump released such a financial statement, but has kept his tax returns private, both during the election campaign and since taking office in January.

Trump has justified his refusal to publish his returns by saying they are being audited, although federal tax authorities say that does not bar him from releasing the returns.

Several hundred “Tax March” protesters also demonstrated outside Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, where he was spending the weekend.

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