“Why is FedEx not paying its fair share?” That’s what more than 400 activists asked on January 25 as part of a larger national movement to hold big corporations accountable to get our economy back on track. People from struggling communities, labor groups, immigrant rights groups, Occupy LA, and others led by Good Jobs LA marched down Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood in a show of unity among the 99% movement. On its way to FedEx, protesters took the opportunity to stop by the branches of big corporations that are also either notorious tax dodgers or are infamous for their bad business practices in our communities. Starting with CNN, whose parent company Time Warner got a tax subsidy of $431 million in 2010, activists marched down Sunset Boulevard carrying signs and banners that read “We Pay Our Taxes, Why is the 1% Not Paying Theirs?” and “Tax Corporations, Build LA”.
Protesters also posted red poster-sized “Citizens Audit Final Notices” on the doors of these businesses. These posters brought attention to how the tax subsidies that these giant corporations received could have been redirected instead to invest in job creation programs and in strengthening public services. A poster that was posted on Verizon Wireless’ door, for example, pointed how that company in 2010 received a federal tax subsidy totaling $4.89 billion. If Verizon Wireless had instead paid its fair share of taxes, a portion of that money could have gone towards investing in job creation and in critical services to the public. 9,900 jobs could have been created from additional healthcare spending; over $548 million could have gone to fund Medicaid, and over $105 million to educational programs. At a time when every year budget cuts threaten public programs that open access to opportunities to average working families to reach for a better life, the excesses of corporate irresponsibility are reaching all time highs.
The march culminated at the FedEx branch near the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Vine Street, where activists performed a little bit of street theater featuring a “FedEx Box Monster” delivering a giant Tax Bill on behalf of the 99% movement. FedEx is one of the country’s worst corporate tax dodgers. From 2008 to 2010, FedEx made $4.2 billion in profits but they paid less than 1% in federal taxes. During that time FedEx spent $46 thousand a day lobbying Congress – $13.8 million more than they paid in taxes. When rich corporations like FedEx fail to pay their fair share in taxes, local communities can’t afford teachers, firefighters, police officers, health care and other needed public services.
Other corporations highlighted on the march were Bank of America and Chase Bank for their predatory lending practices and Well Fargo also for its tax dodging habits. Similar protests against corporate tax dodgers will be held all week in dozens of cities around the country, including New York, Chicago, Washington, DC, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Houston and Miami. The march in Hollywood was launched as a response to a newly released CBS/NY Times poll that revealed a strong majority of Americans believe the top 1% do not pay their fair share in taxes. According to a report by the Citizens for Tax Justice Reform, in 2010 249 of the country’s largest and most profitable corporations paid less than the U.S. corporate tax rate and instead received federal tax subsidies totaling more than $87.27 billion.
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