Today, hundreds of people from Make Wall Street Pay, one member of a larger Main Street Movement that seeks to defend the American middle class, shut down a Bank of America branch in Washington, D.C. over the bank’s tax dodging. In 2009, the bank used loopholes in the tax code to avoid paying a penny of taxes. The protesters, many of them homeowners who had been abused by the bank’s mortgage policies, were outraged that the nation’s biggest bank was paying less taxes than they were in 2009.
Last week, National People’s Action and the Public Accountability Initiative, both of whom are organizing the Make Wall Street Pay protests, put out a report, “Big Bank Tax Drain.” The report lays out the costs that average Americans — who are being asked to sacrifice their education, their health, and their pensions — incur from the egregious tax dodging by the big banks.
In one particularly shocking statistic, the report notes that the six biggest banks in the United States together paid “income tax at an approximate rate of 11” percent in 2009 and 2010. If they had paid 35 percent, which is the legally mandated rate without loopholes, the federal government would have received “$13 billion in tax revenue” — a sum which would cover the salaries, for two years, of every single one of the 132,000 teachers laid off since the beginning of the economic recession:
Six banks – Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley together paid income tax at an approximate rate of 11% of their pre-tax US earnings in 2009 and 2010. Had they paid at 35%, what they are legally mandated to pay, the federal government would have received an additional $13 billion in tax revenue. This would cover more than two years of salaries for the 132,000 teacher jobs lost since the economic crisis began in 2008.
As the Wonk Room’s Pat Garofalo writes, “Though the U.S. has a high statutory corporate tax rate, the effective tax rate that corporations actually pay is far lower, due to the myriad loopholes and credits in the corporate tax code, as well as the widespread sheltering of income in tax havens. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found, ‘corporate tax revenues are now at historical lows as a share of the economy.’”
In addition to shutting down a local Bank of America branch, Make Wall Street Pay protesters also demonstrated outside the convention of the National Association of Attorneys General, demanding action on the foreclosure crisis. They also flooded the offices of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), demanding that both support policies that would make big Wall Street banks like Goldman Sachs and Citigroup pay their fair share before attacking investments and crucial services in Main Street America.
Inside the Bank of America, protesters handed the bank-teller a bill for the amount of taxes the megabank failed to pay in recent years:
,Scores of protesters flooded Boehner’s office, telling him they “found the money” we need to tackle our debt without laying off teachers and gutting crucial services: