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Large Corporations Getting Away without Paying Taxes? San Mateo Activists To Show How Wrong It Is
Groups calling for the end of tax breaks for large corporations were thrilled to hear that anti-corporate activists the Yes Men pulled off another amazing hoax, this time on General Electric. Both Associated Press and USA Today fell for it. In the period the hoax was believed, GE's stock plunged by .6%, then quickly recovered as soon as it became apparent the press had been duped.
Anti-corporate hoax artists the Yes Men have done it again. Working with members of US Uncut, a group that is calling for corporations to pay their fare share of taxes, the merry Yes Men issued a very convincing but fake press release that included the G.E. logo and a link to an official looking (but phony) G.E. website.
The Associated Press fell for it and so did USA Today.
Here is part of what the fake press release said:
GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt has informed the Obama administration that the company will be gifting its entire 2010 tax refund, worth $3.2 Billion, to the US Treasury on April 18, Tax Day, and will furthermore adopt a host of new policies that secure its position as a leader in corporate social responsibility.
"We want the public to know that we've heard them, and that we know many Americans are going through tough times," said GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt. "GE will therefore give our 2010 tax refund back to the public and allow the public to decide how to spend it."
Immelt acknowledged no wrongdoing. "All seven of our foreign tax havens are entirely legal," Immelt noted. "But Americans have made it clear that they deplore laws that enable tax avoidance. While we owe it to our shareholders to use every legal loophole to maximize returns — we also owe something to the American people. We didn't write the laws that let us legally avoid paying taxes. Congress did. But we benefit from those laws, and now we'd like to share those benefits. We are proud to be giving something back to America, and we are proud to set an example for all industry to follow."
Not only GE, but large banks indulge in lobbying for tax breaks and innovative accounting that enable them to concentrate their profits offshore.
In San Mateo, California, the group Take Back Democracy will be doing some indulging of their own with demonstrations for appropriate taxation of large corporations this week. Carol Cross of that organization said, “We can’t allow multinational corporations to overrule democracy by and for the people, as they continue to buy their tax loopholes.” She called for election funding reform to stop corporations from essentially buying tax-break votes. San Mateo County resident Susan Raye said, "Big corporations contribute large sums to candidates for elected office who then do the corporations' bidding. The result is that funding for essential services gets cut and big companies get tax loopholes."
Other members of Take Back Democracy said they appreciate the use of humor, such as the Yes Men use, to make an important point. They said their own "Billionaires for Big Banks" (aka the Raging Grannies) will show up at an action on the San Francisco Peninsula this week for a protest with a spoof.