More than 400,000 Americans signed a petition calling on Donald Trump to release his tax returns. On Tuesday, progressive activists delivered those signatures to Trump Tower.
Progressive activists showed up at Donald Trump’s doorstep on Tuesday with a simple demand for Trump: Release your tax returns. It’s a pretty simple request, and not all that unusual. For the last 40 years, every major presidential nominee has done it. In 2012, Trump even went on Fox News to prod Mitt Romney to release his returns, saying “Mitt has to get this returns out.” Hillary Clinton released forms for every year going back to 1977 — 39 years.
— People's Action (@PplsAction) July 12, 2016
According to Citizen Action of New York’s New York City organizer Darius Gordon, the petition delivery addressed both Trump’s tax record and his racist rhetoric. “We had about eight boxes of petitions,” Gordon said, “and a family originally from Mexico but who are now American citizens led the delivery.”
— Citizen Action of NY (@citizenactionny) July 12, 2016
When someone is running for the highest office in the country, voters have a right to know if he or she can be trusted, and how he or she does business. While it’s not mandatory, it goes along way towards answering those questions when a candidate releases tax returns. In Trump’s case, it would put to rest or debunk a lot of claims he’s made on the campaign trail.
- Is Trump as wealthy as he says he is? Trump brags about this size of his fortune almost as much as the size of his hands. “I’m very rich,” might even be one of the most applauded lines in his stump speech. Trump’s tax return could reveal that his net worth is a whole lot lower than the $9 billion he’ claimed. In 2005 business reporter Timothy O’Brien wrote in Trump Nation: The Art of Being the Donald, that people who’d worked closely with Trump for years said his net worth was “somewhere between $150 million and $250 million.” Trump tried to sue O’Brien for libel in 2009 and failed. O’Brien actually saw Trump’s unredacted returns as part of the suit, and while he’s not at liberty to say what he learned from them, O’Brien appears to stands by his claim.
- Does Trump even pay taxes? In 2012, Mitt Romney was probably slow to release his tax return, because he knew it would reveal that his tax rate was just 14 percent. The only public information we have about Trump’s taxes comes from a 1981 New Jersey gambling regulators report that showed Trump’s federal tax bill from was $0, because he reported negative income to the federal government in 1978 and 1979. “We want to see if he’s paid his taxes,” Gordon said. Politico reported this week that Trump appears to have paid no taxes for two years in the early 1990s.“We know on four other occasions that he hasn’t, and we the 99 percent have picked up the tab for this tax dodger. On the campaign trail, Trump has bragged that he games the tax code to pay as little as possible, and calls it ”the American way." But to millions of Americans who do pay taxes every year, it sounds like Trump’s way is to cheat on his taxes and stick them with the bill.
- Is Trump a cheat? The follow-up to the previous question is “Does Dona’d Trump cheat on his taxes?” We already know he cheats on just about everything else. He cheats his workers out of their pay. He cheated his creditors and his employees with numerous tactical bankruptcies. He cheated consumers, with his fraudulent “Trump University.” He cheated on his wives, with many “seemingly happily married and important women,” and excused himself by claiming “most powerful men have affairs.”
- Will Trump’s tax plan benefit Trump most? Trump is for president with a tax plan he claims will help the middle class over the “hedge fund guys.” But the Tax Policy Center found that Trump’s tax plan mostly helps people like Trump, by giving the top 0.1 percent an average of $1.3 million a year in tax cuts, compared to an annual reduction of just $2,700 for middle-class Americans.
No one at Trump Tower in New York City was willing to receive the petitions. “We approached the security desk to ask if someone would accept the petitions,” Gordon said. “Someone came down, but refused to accept the petitions.” Progressive activists aren’t giving up. The petitions may yet be delivered electronically. Yet, their message was delivered loud and clear. “I want people to understand that we’re going through economic struggle right now,” Gordon said, and for the people who are the top — especially if you want to be the leader of the free world — to get away with not paying their fair share is something that should infuriate you, and motivate you to do something about it."