Nationwide marches set to protest Trump tax returns

Nationwide marches set to protest Trump tax returns
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Tens of thousands of people are expected to attend rallies on Saturday that are aimed at pressuring President Trump to release his tax returns.

The events, which will be held as the tax-filing deadline approaches, are one of a number of protests that have sprung up since Trump’s election, including the women’s march held the day after the inauguration.

The marches come eight years after Tea Party rallies on President Obama’s first Tax Day in office.

Trump’s tax returns are a long-running controversy from his presidential campaign.

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In a sharp break with precedent, Trump has refused to release the documents, blaming an audit. But the IRS says that nothing prevents people from releasing their own tax information.

Here are five things to know about the tax marches.

The marches will span the globe

While the main march will take place in Washington, D.C., there are also events set for more than 150 other cities in the U.S. and abroad.

Events are planned in large cities such as New York City and Los Angeles, as well as in smaller cities in states that Trump won such as Billings, Mont., and Fayetteville, Ark. Internationally, protests are planned in cities including London and Tokyo.

The D.C. march will start at the U.S. Capitol and end at the Lincoln Memorial, with the route passing Trump’s hotel and the IRS headquarters.

Saturday is April 15, the traditional deadline for people to file their federal tax returns. This year taxpayers actually have until Tuesday, April 18, because April 15 falls on a Saturday and Monday is when D.C. will observe Emancipation Day.

The idea for Tax Day protests initially came on social media, after Trump aide Kellyanne Conway said the Sunday after the inauguration that “people didn’t care” about the president’s tax returns. Later, a number of liberal groups got involved, including MoveOn.org, Credo and the Working Families Party.

Democratic lawmakers will be making hay

Democrats have sought to make Trump’s tax returns a big political issues, and Sen. Ron WydenRon WydenTrump and GOP wise to keep tax reform and infrastructure separate Dem senator questions Justice Department on warrantless surveillance FCC says it cannot provide more proof of claimed cyberattack MORE (D-Ore.) and Reps. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) will all speak at the D.C. rally. Several other lawmakers will speak at rallies elsewhere.

Wyden is the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee and has introduced legislation to require Trump and future presidents and presidential nominees to disclose their returns.

Other high-profile figures appearing at the rallies include David Cay Johnston, the journalist who was mailed a portion of Trump’s 2005 tax returns and was featured on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” last month. He’ll speak at the San Francisco march.

Richard Painter, the former chief ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush, will speak at an event in Minneapolis, Minn.

Tax reform will be a hot topic

While the main topic at the rallies will be Trump’s tax returns, there is also likely to be plenty of discussion about the efforts from the president and congressional Republicans to enact tax reform legislation this year.

People involved in the events argue that Trump should release his returns because the public needs to know how he might personally benefit from any tax proposals he pushes.

The organizers are also concerned that GOP tax reform efforts will largely benefit wealthy individuals and large corporations.

“We’re seeing this as the beginning of a push against Republican and Trump tax plans,” said Americans for Tax Fairness Executive Director Frank Clemente, whose group is a partner on the march.

The march’s executive committee released principles for the D.C. event last month, arguing that the wealthy and corporations should see their taxes increase rather than decrease.

Giant inflatable chickens will be front and center

Organizers of the tax marches have shown their creative side with the marketing of the events.

The march logo features Trump looking like Rich Uncle Pennybags from the game Monopoly. And a number of the rallies will feature large inflatable chickens that resemble Trump.

The chickens were originally created by a Chinese real estate company for celebrations of the Chinese lunar new year, since 2017 is the year of the rooster. Organizers of local marches first started buying the balloons, and the mascot then got adopted nationally, said Clemente and Ben Wikler, Washington director of MoveOn.org.

The mascot pairs with the protesters’ argument that Trump is being a “chicken” about releasing his tax returns.

The rallies are unlikely to change Trump’s mind

In recent days, the White House has signaled that Trump’s position on his tax returns hasn’t moved.

When a reporter asked White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Tuesday when Trump planned to release his 2016 tax returns, Spicer said, “I think we've asked and answered that several times, and the president has been under audit.”

The groups involved in organizing the tax marches expect to continue to push the matter after the rallies, particularly as tax reform efforts and investigations into potential links between the Trump campaign and Russia heat up.

“The march is not the end,” said Anna Chu, a member of the march's executive committee.