Protesters Sickened By Big Companies Taking Federal Bailouts
BALTIMORE — Dozens of protesters converged Tuesday — the day taxes are due this year — in downtown Baltimore to call on corporate America to shoulder a greater tax burden.
The demonstrators said they believe the richest corporations are getting unfair tax breaks at the expense of the other 99 percent of Americans.
Chanting “I am the 99 percent,” nearly 100 protesters chose tax day to declare their outrage at America’s richest citizens and largest corporations.
“I paid more in taxes than General Electric that had $5.1 billion in profits, and there’s something that just doesn’t make sense about that while our country and our city are just struggling to survive,” said Mike McGuire, a member of Occupy Baltimore.
Several groups organized the demonstration, including Good Jobs, Better Baltimore and MoveOn.org.
Terrell Williams said he attended the demonstration because he teaches in a Baltimore City school that is in desperate need of more funding.
“The question has to be if you’re giving those subsidies to corporations, who is not being served? I believe it’s our kids,” Williams said.
Williams said four months of his annual salary goes to pay his taxes and he’s outraged that some big companies get tax breaks that allow them to avoid paying what he called their fair share to the public coffers.
Others said they’re sickened by big companies taking federal bailouts.
“We kept the auto industry going, we kept the banking industry afloat, and that’s all coming out of the pockets of those of us that do pay taxes. So, again, here it is, a basic question of equity,” McGuire said.
Members of Baltimore’s faith community also showed up to call on big businesses to be more socially conscious.
“There’s moral power, there’s spiritual power, there’s financial power, and we have to bring all that together to lift up everybody in this place,” said David Carl Olson, a minister at the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore.
Similar gatherings were organized in other cities across the country.
Baltimore’s demonstration location was chosen for its proximity to the Main Post Office, which remained open until midnight Tuesday for taxpayers to send their returns with a Tuesday postmark. Business inside the post office remained brisk at the 11 p.m. hour.
As Baltimoreans rushed to the city’s main post office to file their taxes by the April 17 deadline, taxpayers across the street at Shot Tower Park gathered for a rally calling on tax dodgers to pay their fair share.
The protest, one of hundreds happening around the country today, highlighted the fact that some of the most profitable U.S. corporations are exploiting loopholes to evade paying billions in taxes. Participants, wearing stickers with the message, “I paid my fair share, the 1% should too,” spoke out against a backdrop of visuals representing vital public services facing deep budget cuts like schools, libraries and infrastructure projects.
Recent reports from Citizens for Tax Justice show that 26 of the most profitable U.S. corporations, including Wells Fargo, Exelon, and GE, have paid negative federal income tax rates between 2008 and 2011. Had they paid the full 35 percent corporate tax rate over this period, they would have paid at least $78 billion in taxes—funds that would have been available for vital public services.
Maryland residents don’t have to look far to see the consequences of corporate tax dodging. Our state’s recently enacted “doomsday” budget raises the specter of the loss of millions in funding for already woefully underfunded public services. In education, the cuts could mean a loss in per-pupil funding of over $11 million, a devastating blow to Baltimore’s city school system, where over 70 percent of our schools are already rated in “poor condition.”
Organizers of the protest are demanding that Congress support the Buffett Rule (H.R. 3909, S.2230) and that they also take action to close tax loopholes that let corporations pay lower tax rates than regular working people.
The recent Citizens for Tax Justice report, “Corporate Taxpayers & Corporate Tax Dodgers, 2008-10,” lists 249 corporations that paid less than their fair share in federal corporate income taxes in 2010.
In other words, 249 of the country’s largest and most profitable corporations paid less than the U.S. statutory corporate tax rate of 35% in 2010. Instead, these 249 companies got a 2010 federal tax subsidy totaling over $87.27 billion.
One of these corporations, Exelon, got a 2010 federal tax subsidy of OVER $914 MILLION. This is the same Exelon that is acquiring BGE and parent company Constellation energy.
Maryland’s share of this massive corporate tax giveaway comes to OVER $17 MILLION.
That’s over $17 million that could have gone to pay for:
What if Exelon had paid its fair share in 2010? What could it have meant for spending on these vital programs in Maryland?
HEALTH CARE: Over $1 million for Medicaid – enough to serve over 200 people.
FEEDING THE POOR: Over $414,000 for anti-hunger programs, including…
AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND UTILITIES: Over $200,000 for rental assistance – enough to help over 20 families find decent, affordable housing. Over $31,000 in home energy assistance – enough to help over 40 households keep warm during the winter and cool during the summer.
QUALITY EDUCATION: Over $262,000 for education programs, including…
LIFTING FAMILIES OUT OF POVERTY: Over $251,000 in Earned Income Tax Credits – enough to help lift over 110 households out of poverty.
TAKING CARE OF THOSE WHO SERVE: Over $188,000 in disability compensation for veterans – the equivalent of helping over 20 disabled veterans and their families.