On Tax Day, unions lead call for banks to pay their fair share

SEIU Local 26 member Harrison Bullard calls out U.S. Bank CEO Richard Davis, pictured in the cutout to his right.

When it comes to avoiding taxes, Wells Fargo appears to know every loophole in the book. The banking giant has received nearly $18 billion in tax breaks over the last three years, including $681 million in federal tax refunds.

Now, a growing number of people – those of us without access to offshore tax shelters – are arguing that tax breaks for big banks like Wells Fargo aren’t fair. Unions across the country used the deadline for filing federal income-tax returns April 17 to amplify that message, saying it’s time for the wealthiest 1 percent and Wall Street banks to pay their fair share.

In Minneapolis, unions joined fair-housing advocates and faith groups in a “Tax Day Rally & March For the 99%.” About 100 protesters rallied outside a meeting for U.S. Bank shareholders at the Minneapolis Convention Center, then marched through the streets of downtown to Wells Fargo Center.

Speakers at the rally took aim at a cardboard cutout of U.S. Bank CEO Richard Davis. They linked Davis to right-wing lobbying groups like ALEC, which seeks to maintain tax breaks for Wall Street banks and dismantle public education and other vital services.

“CEO Richard Davis lobbies for the 1 percent,” said Harrison Bullard, a member of SEIU Local 26. “He lobbies for Wall Street for more tax breaks for them on the state and national levels, while the 99 percent continues to suffer.”

Other speakers wondered why, when they have filed their returns and paid their fair share, the same can’t be said for big banks that crashed our economy in the first place.

“I paid my taxes, but I’m here to talk about the banks, the big corporations and the 1 percent that think they are exempt from the same rules that the rest of us have to follow,” said Robin Dial, a laid-off teacher. “The citizens of Minnesota – that’s us – have to pick up the slack. This makes the rich free riders on the hard labor of the citizens of Minnesota.”

Similar events took place across the country on tax day. In Washington, union members rallied outside the offices of super-lobbyist and anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist. In Syracuse, N.Y., and St. Louis, games of “Tax Dodger Dodgeball” broke out to showcase how wealthy corporations manipulate tax loopholes to get out of paying their fair share even as their profits are on a meteoric rise.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka pointed out that when corporations “dodge” their financial responsibility, it’s the community that pays the price.

“While hardworking Americans pay their share so that we can support our troops, keep our communities safe, and build the roads we use every day, the super-wealthy are taking advantage of a system to further strengthen their chokehold on the economy,” he said.

%d bloggers like this: