On Tax Day (April 17), hundreds of Chicagoans took to the streets to demand that billion-dollar corporations and their millionaire executives pay their fair share in taxes. Our 99% Citizen Tax Enforcers presented giant tax bills to notorious corporate tax dodgers Exelon, Bank of America, Verizon, BMO Harris Bank and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and took in their CEOs–represented by 8-foot-tall puppets–as the crowd chanted “Pay Your Fair Share!” See PHOTOS & VIDEO.
The mass protest, consisting of two large rallies and four separate marches, was part a growing wave of frustration felt by 99% families who want the corporations that created our economic emergency to start paying their fair share in taxes. Protesters called upon their elected representatives to support the Buffett Rule—the Paying a Fair Share Act, H.R.3909, S.2230, which puts an end to millionaires paying lower taxes than working people—and to close corporate tax loopholes. They also demanded that tax-dodging corporations and executives stop taking advantage of loopholes and other tax-avoidance strategies.
Against the background of the Federal Plaza Post Office branch, where taxpayers were gathered to mail their returns, Lenda Mason, a homecare worker and member of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana, addressed the cheering crowd. “We can’t afford to sit silently and let another tax day go by without demanding that these corporations pay us the trillions of dollars they have taken from us through tax breaks, bailouts and corporate welfare.” Protesters dressed as “99% Citizen Tax Enforcers,” in black suits, sunglasses and briefcases, unfurled a long banner to expose the amount in taxes “dodged” by the 1% since 2001. The number—$2.15 Trillion—stretched the length of a city block.
After rallying at Federal Plaza, protesters then formed four separate marches to corporate headquarters of Exelon, and retail locations of Bank of America, Verizon and BMO Harris. At each location, the “99% Citizen Tax Enforcers” were on hand to apprehended an 8-foot-tall puppet representing each company’s CEO. At Bank of America, retired police officer Charles Brown addressed the crowd. “I have lived in Englewood for 43 years and watched as layoffs, school closures, and program cuts have hurt hard-working men and women, forcing them to lose their homes or be evicted from their apartments while our neighborhoods decay. The banks take our homes with no questions, second chances or bailouts.” Despite earning over $5 billion in profits since it received its federal bailout, Bank of America has not paid any federal taxes since 2008—and even received a $5 billion tax refund one year.
The four marches then converged on the Board of Trade, where all of the puppets—including the final puppet, an 8-foot-tall likeness of CME Group Executive Chairman Terry Duffy—were placed in a jail cell while protesters chanted “Hey You Millionaires, Pay Your Fair Share.” Speaker Shani Smith asked the crowd, “Do we make a lot of money? No. But we pay our taxes. CME Group made $2 billion in profits last year, but threatened to leave the state in order to get $1 billion in tax breaks over the next 10 years. We are all here today because it’s tax day and time for rich corporations like CME Group to stop profiting from our suffering and pay their fair share.”