At a rally held in front of Chase Bank on Capitol Square in Madison, Wisconsin today, a few dozen people gathered to air their grievances against Chase and other U.S. corporations who will pay no taxes for 2010. Jeff Kravat of MoveOn hosted the rally along with Gene Lundergan, who gathered a group of four or five people to present a tax bill of almost $2 billion to the branch bank manager. This bill, for $1.988 billion, was drawn up using Chase's 2010 10-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and a December 2008 U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report (pdf). When Lundergan, Steve Hughes of Young Progressives and several others approached the front entrance of the bank, they were refused admission by the security guard, so they left the bill propped in the front window.
Among those who spoke to the crowd was Kyle Bailey of the Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group (WISPIRG). "The weight of corporate tax dodgers ... is being carried by the rest of us," he said. "We urge our representatives in Congress to bring fairness to the tax code by ending tax haven abuse. The time for reform is now." These corporations make use of offshore tax havens and other taxation strategies to avoid paying U.S. taxes. As the crowd chanted, "Banks got bailed out, we got sold out" and "Banksters, you gangsters, give our money back," they started a march around the square to M&I Bank, the target of protests and account closures last month. As they walked, the ranks swelled, until there were upwards of 50 people rounding the State Street corner. They sang a chorus of "Solidarity Forever" with the daily sing-along group standing on the stairs by the "Forward" statue. When they reached the M&I branch, the front doors were immediately locked from the inside. The crowd sang "M&I will rob you" to the tune of Queen's "We Will Rock You" and chanted, "Where did all the money go? Down the Walker rathole."
On a day when ordinary citizens are submitting their tax returns, signing checks paying their fair share, these people of Wisconsin would like to know why BP, Wells Fargo, General Electric, Bank of America, Google, Goldman Sachs, CitiGroup, ExxonMobil, Boeing, FedEx, JPMorgan Chase and Amazon can get out of a cumulative $34.5 billion in taxes (according, again, to SEC filings and the GAO report).