NEW YORK, April 15 (Reuters) - Thousands of people turned out for a march through midtown Manhattan on Saturday to demand that President Donald Trump release his tax returns and to dispute his claim that the public does not care about the issue.
Organizers of New York's "Tax March," one of more than 150 across the country and beyond, want to call attention to Trump's refusal to disclose his tax history, as his White House predecessors have done for more than 40 years.
In addition to major U.S. cities, including Washington and Los Angeles, marches are planned in Europe, Japan and New Zealand.
The Manhattan march began with a rally at Bryant Park, drawing a good-natured crowd estimated by a Reuters reporter to be about 5,000 people, although no official estimates were immediately available. The procession up Sixth Avenue was due to disperse at Central Park.
Among the marchers was an oversized inflatable rooster, sporting an angry expression and a sweeping metallic orange hairdo meant to resemble Trump's signature style.
"Thanks to Trump, I think that releasing your taxes when you run for president now has to be a law," said New Yorker Marni Halasa, 51, who arrived in a tutu and leggings made of fake dollar bills and holding a sign that read "Show Me The Money!"
Critics have raised questions about what Trump's tax returns say about his net worth and various business ties.
As a candidate and as president, Trump has steadfastly refused to release his tax returns, citing an ongoing audit by the Internal Revenue Service. In September, he told ABC News, "I don't think anybody cares, except some members of the press."
The IRS has said that Trump can release his tax returns even while under audit.
The Trump tax marches were launched by a single tweet, organizers said. A day after the massive Jan. 21 women's march in Washington and other cities, comedy writer Frank Lesser tapped out on Twitter, "Trump claims no one cares about his taxes. The next mass protest should be on Tax Day to prove him wrong." It has been retweeted more than 21,000 times.
Organizers said they stuck with the traditional tax-deadline date of April 15 for the marches because as a Saturday it would draw more attendance, even though this year's income tax filing deadline was pushed back to Tuesday.
POLLS SHOW PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR TRUMP TAX RELEASE
"Paying your taxes is an American thing to do," said Claudia Stroie, 49, a mechanical engineer from Connecticut who attended the rally in New York. "He's not fit to represent the American people."
Joe Dinkin, spokesman for the Working Families Party, one of the groups organizing the marches, said ongoing investigations into the Trump campaign's connections with Russia underscore the need to disclose his returns.
"Without seeing his taxes, we'll never really know who he's working for," said Dinkin, who expects the marches to draw at least 100,000 protesters.
There have been some glimpses into Trump's tax history. Last month, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow reported on two pages of Trump's 2005 return that were obtained by investigative reporter David Cay Johnston and released by DCReport.org. They showed Trump paid $38 million in taxes on more than $150 million in income.
And in October, The New York Times reported that Trump had declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 federal tax return, citing three pages of documents from the return.
In a Quinnipiac University poll released on April 4, more than two-thirds of the respondents said Trump should publicly release his tax returns. Other recent polls had similar results.