Update, Jan. 26, 2017, at 10 a.m.: If you’re interested in marching on Tax Day, check out TaxMarch.org.
It turns out there are only two certainties in life: death and Donald Trump not releasing his taxes.
Before he ran for president, Trump promised he’d release his tax returns if he indeed ran for office. When he ran, he said he’d release them after the Internal Revenue Service finished its “audit.” Now that he’s president, his adviser Kellyanne Conway announced he won’t ever release them because “people didn’t care.” Conway then reversed course to say maybe he will release them after the audit after all, and she’s probably one more TV interview away from claiming he already released them and “every tax expert said they were tremendous.”
At this point, it’s clear that Trump isn’t going to show us his tax records unless he feels like he has no other choice. And without those tax returns, we won’t have the basic information we need to unravel Trump’s entanglements with foreign governments, to discern whether he used illegal tax shelters, or to figure out if he’s actually as rich as he claims to be.
Plus, in the wake of Trump’s comment that less than 200,000 inaugural attendees was actually 1.5 million, maybe someone needs to double-check his math.
The Women’s March on Washington and its sister marches around the nation inspired and empowered millions of Americans. Everyone who took to the streets this past weekend is now asking two big questions: “What email list did I just end up on?” and “What's next?”
On Sunday evening, I offered up a possible answer to that latter question, sending out the following tweet while sipping on my arugula latte. (They're delicious—ask any member of the coastal elite.)
Trump claims no one cares about his taxes. The next mass protest should be on Tax Day to prove him wrong.— Frank Lesser (@sadmonsters) January 22, 2017
Before I knew it, the idea had spread like the STDs Trump claims he avoided during his “personal Vietnam.”
While I wasn’t the first person to come up with the idea for a Tax Day march, I now find myself the clearly unprepared leader of a nationwide movement fueled by Twitter-based rage. In a sense, I am now exactly like Trump. But this movement isn’t about me! I am just your voice, your angry voice, commanding you to—whoa. Sorry. Those retweets really go to your head.
The march took a step closer to reality when comedian Patton Oswalt suggested the hashtag #TrumpTaxesMarch and added his own urgent message:
I ENDORSE THIS 100%. This is the next march. This is the next demonstration. Please RT, everyone. Every city. https://t.co/lgVLknPnnG— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) January 23, 2017
Beau Willimon, the showrunner of House of Cards, spelled out additional steps and messaging, and did it more eloquently and succinctly than I ever could. Plus, it’s more fun to read about politics if you do it in Frank Underwood’s creepy Southern drawl.
Somebody file for the Sat 4/15 permit: WH ellipse or IRS HQ. We need to show up on his doorstep with our tax filings, demanding his returns.— Beau Willimon (@BeauWillimon) January 23, 2017
1. Let's get to work on a Tax Day Protest in DC and at local IRS offices around the country to demand that Trump release his returns..— Beau Willimon (@BeauWillimon) January 23, 2017
2. Rules for event permit in DC. Must meet with special events task force at least 60 days out (2/15 for 4/15) https://t.co/hJgzZb6419…— Beau Willimon (@BeauWillimon) January 23, 2017
3. You can also organize in your local area, in front of or near your local IRS office. Contact local PD for permit rules and details.— Beau Willimon (@BeauWillimon) January 23, 2017
4. Show up with your tax filings. Send the message that if you are paying taxes then the President (whom YOU pay) should release his returns— Beau Willimon (@BeauWillimon) January 23, 2017
5. If he has nothing to hide, then there should be no harm in proving that to his constituents, the taxpayers of America.— Beau Willimon (@BeauWillimon) January 23, 2017
Although that plan sounds perfect to me, I do want to add a few more thoughts about what I hope this march can accomplish. I’d also like to suggest the one thing every modern political movement needs: a dumb hat.
The Trump Taxes March should be part of a larger protest about income inequality and Trump’s tax cuts for the rich—or more accurately, Trump’s tax cuts for his children. (The so-called death tax, which only affects the portion of an inheritance that exceeds $5.45 million, should be renamed “the Ivanka tax.”) We follow in the footsteps of the Occupy movement and the elderly shuffles of Bernie Sanders.
But the Trump Taxes March also has a simple, achievable goal: to get President Trump to release his tax returns, something every other president has done for the past 40 years. His administration is already being sued by “constitutional scholars, Supreme Court litigators, and former White House ethics lawyers” over payments from foreign governments that might violate the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, so we know his hands aren’t clean—which is surprising because it should only take seconds to wash them, given that they’re so tiny.
To be clear, we don’t want to see his tax returns because we’re the financial equivalent of a lecherous pervert who barges into underage girls’ dressing rooms while they’re changing. We’re not trying to find out how much money he spent taking a married woman furniture-shopping before he “moved on her like a bitch.” We want to show President Trump that, no matter what his advisers may say, the American people do care. We care if our president has unseemly ties to foreign or domestic interests. We care if our president says he’ll do something and then straight up doesn’t do it. That’s why the official White House petition requesting Trump to release his tax returns already has more than 270,000 signatures. Using Trump math, that’s more than 1.75 million. Huge!
If you don’t care that we care about this—if you agree with Conway’s claim that “Most Americans are very focused on what their tax returns will look like while President Trump is in office, not what his look like”—we will show you that “most Americans” don’t agree. And we’ll continue to show you by marching from Inauguration Day through Tax Day until Election Day.
So show us your tax returns, President Trump. We might even be willing to give you an extension if you need more time to convert the rubles to dollars.