When I was 28 years old, I was the plaintiff in a small-claims tax case against the Oregon Department of Revenue. The department thought I owed it money for the time that I'd been living and paying taxes in California.
I represented myself, using my L.A. apartment lease and Hollywood library card to prove I'd been there. The Department of Revenue agreed I was a part-year resident and recalculated my tax. I no longer owed Oregon $527, a significant amount, especially given what I earned at my job in a stationery store.
When it comes to my taxes, I have nothing to hide.
If only the same could be said for the president of the United States.
On Saturday, April 15, I'll be joining Tax March PDX, one of various protests around the country calling upon President Trump to release his tax returns. My motivation for being there is rooted in both national and local politics.
Americans expect and deserve transparency from our presidents. Aside from Gerald Ford (who shared his summary tax data), Trump is the only major-party nominee not to release his tax returns in over 40 years.
Trump told voters over a year ago that he couldn't release them because he was under audit. We know this is a blatant excuse. There's no IRS prohibition on doing so: Warren Buffet proved the point during the presidential campaign by making his own records public while he was being audited.
It could be Trump's returns conceal a pathetically low ongoing tax rate: in 2005, Trump significantly decreased what he owed by taking a $100 million write-off. It could be that they hide something far more nefarious: investment ties to Russia, which he's repeatedly denied. It could also be that his returns contain nothing interesting at all. We won't know until we see them.
In addition to the national importance of the day, I'm joining Tax March PDX because it feels like a unique Portland — and Oregon — moment. The three lead organizers of Tax March PDX, Elizabeth Basaca, Ben Parisot and Robin Pair, have never done anything like this before. They volunteered because Trump's election galvanized them in a way they couldn't have imagined before last November. They join Tax March organizers in Coos Bay, Eugene, Port Orford, Sherwood and Grants Pass — which are connected, in turn, not only to sister events across the country, but far-flung places around the world like Tokyo, Stuttgart, Auckland and London. These aren't paid protesters; these are our friends, family and neighbors doing their best to make a difference.
If you think it's important for the president of the United States to show us his tax returns, we'll be marching together on April 15. Come join us.
Angela Uherbelau, a writer, lives in Northeast Portland and is the creator of www.daywomendemandanswers.com. To learn more about the Tax March, visit www.taxmarch.org.