Activists cheer Neal's decision to go after Trump's tax returns

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PITTSFIELD — Since the 2016 presidential election, groups of voters have stood in Park Square rallying against Donald Trump's policy proposals and decisions, some of them calling for the release of his tax returns. On Thursday, one day after U.S. Rep. Richard Neal made a formal request for the records, several activists said: "finally."

"I'm relieved that there is finally a request for the tax returns," said Lisa Segura, of Adams, as she arrived at a rally downtown. "But what can you say until you actually see them?"

The request made Wednesday by Neal, D-Springfield, who heads the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, is the first such demand for a sitting president's tax information in 45 years. In a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, he asked for Trump's personal and business returns for 2013 through 2018, setting an April 10 deadline.

More than 70 people, some holding signs demanding transparency, rallied at the park to demand the release of the final report on the investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 election. The rally was one of hundreds held across the country for the same purpose.

Jennifer Dils, an organizer of Greylock Together, was among the crowd. She said that Greylock Together, which is one of several groups that make up the CD-1 Progressive Coalition, has held several town hall events inviting Neal, with the intention of urging him to make the request."We've been showing up to town halls that Neal hasn't come to," she said. "That has been our top request. It's well within his rights and privilege as a committee chairman."

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Trump was the first presidential candidate in decades who refused to release his income tax filings. He has said he won't release them because he is being audited, even though IRS officials have said taxpayers under audit are free to release their returns. Trump also claimed at a news conference that the filings are too complex for people to understand.

"How does everyone get to the position they have? By getting vetted. Trump got to his position without being vetted," said Karen Moore, of Canaan, N.Y. "It should have been done a long time ago."

But advocates for the release of the records don't expect it to come easy now, just because a request has been made. The request will likely set off a legal battle between Democrats controlling the House and the Trump administration.

There will "probably be a lot of resistance from his administration," Dils said. "I think it will come to a head."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Haven Orecchio-Egresitz can be reached at horecchio@berkshireeagle.com, @HavenEagle on Twitter and 413-770-6977.-


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