Jul 29, 2014
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MoveOn Plays Tax Man With Big Business

Watchdog organization protests at Verizon in Corte Madera and Bank of America in San Rafael.

Two things are certain: death and taxes. Taxes aren't lethal but they sure can sting and news of corporate tax breaks can be like salt in a fresh wound.

Marin MoveOn celebrated tax day Monday by protesting at Bank of America in Fairfax and San Rafael and at Verizon in Corte Madera. The protesters, including one dressed as Uncle Sam carrying a stuffed "fat cat," claim large corporations aren't paying their fair share in taxes.

"Most Americans are paying their fair share and we feel the corporations need to pay their fair share to help people who are served by the government and for functions of the government to work," said Bernie Stephan, the council coordinator for Marin MoveOn.

The events in Marin were part of a day of protests around the nation by MoveOn.org.

Customers at the Verizon store in Corte Madera's Town Center were bewildered at the sight of a man in a red, white and blue outfit walking around as protesters chanted "Tax dodging is not a game. You're hurting our nation. Shame, shame shame!"

The protesters tried to present Verizon with a tax bill before they were asked by store employees to leave. Security was called, but no arrests were made. There were no arrests at any of the MoveOn protests in Marin.

The colorful scene caught some attention, although not everyone was impressed.

"That was lame," said Novato's Mark Giammona, who was getting some technical support for his phone at the Verizon store. "Do they really expect to make Verizon pay those taxes?"

MoveOn.org claims Verizon made $24.2 billon in 2010 but didn't pay any federal corporate taxes, but spent $34 million on lobbyists. MoveOn.org also claims Bank of America made $60 billion over the past four years and didn't pay any taxes.

"Verizon is paying a lot less than their fair share," Stephan said. "Those billions of dollars are hurting the country by them having the power to pass the laws through lobbyists that get them the deductions and tax breaks."

In a written statement, Verizon officials counter "Verizon fully complies with all tax laws and pays its fair share of taxes. In 2010 Verizon’s tax bill was $2.5 billion on total income of $12.7 billion, compared with taxes of $1.9 billion on total income of $13.5 billion in 2009. In both years, this includes deferred taxes.

"Verizon actually pays a higher tax rate than the 19.4 percent reported for 2010.  This is because the majority of Verizon’s total income includes income attributable to Vodafone’s 45 percent interest in Verizon Wireless."

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