Wednesday, March 16, 2011

2011-03-16 "‘US Uncut’ protest targets Napa Bank of America" by Jennifer Huffman from "Napa Valley Register" newspaper
Holding a sign that read “I pay my taxes why doesn’t BofA,” Joanne Gifford and a handful of others protested outside the downtown Napa’s Bank of America at noon Tuesday.
Gifford said she is part of a grassroots movement called US Uncut, which calls for U.S. corporations to pay their fair share of income taxes.
The group gathered on Tuesday at the bank to protest what US Uncut literature called “corporate tax dodging, overseas tax havens and other loopholes.”
“Most people don’t realize that most corporations aren’t paying federal income taxes,” Gifford said. “It just makes me angry that it costs me more to buy a cup of coffee than (corporations) pay in federal income taxes.”
“These big corporations aren’t paying their share,” protester Sharon Parham of Napa said. “It’s morally unethical.”
Parham said it was uncomfortable for her to protest at Bank of America. “This is my bank,” she said. “It’s nothing against the workers,” she noted. “This is a statement.”
There are plenty of people who can pay more taxes, protester Irma Liberty of Vallejo said. “Banks are not going broke. Neither are oil companies.”
Paula Cantera of Napa attended the protest as a member of the United Long Term Care Workers Union. Using an interpreter, Cantera had this to say to Bank of America: “You need to pay taxes just like we do.”
“I feel they’re not being truthful,” Matt Pope of American Canyon said. “They’re making record profits, yet at tax time they’re saying we’ve got nothing to share.”
Bank of America seemed to be ready for the protesters. Signs posted on the First Street bank entrance directed customers to the rear entrance on Clay Street.
Shortly after noon, Gifford and the group came through the Clay Street entrance to give the bank manager a typed “Notice of default for unpaid federal income taxes.”
After the group quietly waited in line for the next teller, a bank employee asked them to leave the bank building.
“At the federal level, in 2010 we did not have taxable income, having reported a $4.5 billion loss in the United States,” Colleen Haggerty, Bank of America corporate office spokeswoman, wrote in an e-mail.
“Like any taxpayer, you don’t pay income taxes if you don’t have income.” she.
Bank of America has a variety of tax responsibilities including “income tax, payroll taxes, sales and use tax, and property tax,” Haggerty noted.
“In 2010, our total corporate tax expense was $915 million. More than a third of this ($359 million) went to state and local governments,” Haggerty wrote.
In 2007, before the economic downturn, Bank of America reported total corporate tax expense of $12.6 billion, including $4.5 billion in U.S. income taxes and more than $660 million in state tax expense, Haggerty wrote. “Over the last 10 years Bank of America and Merrill Lynch have paid more than $40 billion in income taxes in the United States,” she said.

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