Spurred by an article in The Nation by Johann Hari called “How to Build a Progressive Tea Party,” a new group called U.S. Uncut has begun protesting against large corporations that avoid paying much or all of the income taxes they ostensibly owe.
The group, modeled after a British organization called U.K. Uncut, has begun by targeting Bank of America branches across the nation.
The embryonic wave of activism is in part a response to the Tea Party’s focus on budget cutting, which has led to proposals for drastic cuts in U.S. states and nationally, cuts which are seen as primarily impacting working people. The massive protests in the Midwest against moves to eliminate collective bargaining have been one response.
U.S. Uncut wants to shift the budget focus to the billions of corporate taxes that go uncollected because of various deductions. According to a Forbes list, Bank of America, for example, with “a provision for credit losses of $49 billion, probably won’t be paying taxes for a long time.”
Companies like ExxonMobil and Chevron pay little or no U.S. income tax despite many billions of dollars in domestic sales. That’s in contrast to Wal-Mart, which paid nearly a third of its profit in taxes in 2009, the kind of percentage a working family would be familiar with.
Different business models account for these disparities, and the issues are complex. ExxonMobil, for example, does a high volume of business in countries with extremely high tax rates, so it pays a lot of income tax—just not to the U.S. treasury.
Still, when working people see their teachers and firemen being laid off while corporations rack up huge profits yet appear to pay almost nothing into the system, it’s no wonder hackles are raised, whether outside a State House in the Midwest or in a bank branch in New York City.
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