News

Tax day protest at Google

Event organized by MoveOn.org has people calling for corporations to pay their fair share

As Americans across the country scrambled to mail off their W-2 and 1099 tax forms on Monday, April 18, a crowd of more than 75 gathered in the muggy drizzle at the Googleplex to demand that the search giant pay its fair share to Uncle Sam.

The protestors carried signs and marched from a far-flung corner of the campus near Highway 101 almost to the headquarters building, occasionally chanting slogans, such as: "Don't cut Medicare/cut corporate welfare!"

The demonstration was just one of many organized across the country by the progressive political group MoveOn.org. Tim Molina, a member of MoveOn, led the local protest.

Fueled in part by an email that was penned by Michael Moore and sent to all MoveOn members, the protestors at Google came from cities all around the Bay Area to accuse Google of dodging what it owes the federal government, and demand that it pay more taxes.

Len Fisher, another MoveOn member, came from Saratoga to protest. He said that he pays quite a bit in taxes and is happy to do so. "I think it's the duty of any citizen to pay taxes," Fisher said. "I think we owe it to our society."

Although Fisher and others at the protest didn't seem to have an entirely clear idea about how much Google paid in taxes this year, and some threw out enormously high numbers about how much the company should have paid (one protestor claimed Google owed trillions of dollars), they all seemed certain that Google and other major companies very often get out of paying taxes by engaging in tricky money-shuffling overseas, by retaining an army of lawyers and by cozying up to the government through lobbyists.

Google had no official comment on the protest, but according to a Bloomberg article published in October of last year, the company does move its money around overseas in order to garner lower corporate tax rates -- a strategy that got one protester particularly riled up.

Paul Buffalo Labont, who addressed the crowd with a charismatic southern drawl and forceful, pro-labor rhetoric said he had no patience for corporations that go to great lengths to avoid paying taxes.

"The taxpayers put this road in," Labont exclaimed, gesturing toward Garcia Avenue. "We put this sidewalk in! We put in their sewer system!" When asked what he thought about the idea that Google may have taken advantage of tax loopholes to lower the amount it owes, he said, "My blood pressure goes up!"

Sandy Spiers, who came from Sunnyvale with her daughter, said that she didn't suspect that Google was breaking any laws, and made sure to say that she is still a fan of Google's products.

"A lot of it is legal -- it's just not right," Spiers said. "I don't think it is Google that has created the problem. They are just playing by the rules. But we have to change the rules for everybody."

Comments

Posted by Dumas, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 20, 2011 at 2:02 pm

In the context of this article, this was a recently-published article [Web Link].

How to Pay No Taxes:
Eleven shelters, dodges, and rolls—all perfectly legal—used by America's wealthiest people.


Posted by Tired_Activist, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 20, 2011 at 2:46 pm

I wish I knew about this event beforehand.


Posted by jupiterk, a resident of Gemello
on Apr 20, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Oure local politicians including Boxer, Feinstein, Anna Eshoo,HOnda, Zoe Lofgren,etc...represent these corporations and funding their campaigns with lots of cash so that these politicians BS a lot to get our votes by saying nice things and enacting and passing legislations to help corporations to get away with whatever they want. Both the liberals and conservative voters are really really really dumb to keep voting for these crooks. Big corporations like Intel, IBM,GE,Google,etc.. are getting away with lot of things legally enacted by the crooked politicians (listed above) who are elected by the same numbskull liberals.


Posted by Neighbor, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 20, 2011 at 3:22 pm

I agree that Google and other corporations should start paying a larger share. I read recently that Google has been using questionable tax loopholes to reduce it's overseas revenue tax rate to only 2.4%. GE made billions in profit this year, but paid no taxes to the US Government. The result of these corporate practices, and the tax loopholes that their crony congress members have put in place, is that the corporate share of total US Government revenue has been greatly reduced. Meanwhile, executive compensation has gone through the roof and employee benefits have been eroded and wages stagnated. We are returning to corporate-run plutocracy.


Posted by Neighbor, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 20, 2011 at 3:26 pm

@jupiterk -- it's absurd to blame this corporate-government corruption on 'liberals' alone. The Republicans are even more to blame. However, I agree the Democrats are even more duplicitous and bought off as well. The Republicans are more honest about their corporate allegiance.


Posted by Voice_Vigilante, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 20, 2011 at 3:33 pm

"Don't cut Medicare/cut corporate welfare"
Needs spaces before and after "/" if a slash is preceded and followed by either a sentence or a phrase. No spaces with single words: "Don't cut Medicare/Medical."


Posted by Steve, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Apr 20, 2011 at 3:44 pm

It's not whether indivduals or corporations aren't paying enough, the government is taking too much. Too many people miss the connection between government spending and taxation, as if money from Washington (or Sacremanto) magically appears from nowhere.


Posted by Lee, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 20, 2011 at 7:04 pm

Why should companies pay 40, 50, 60%? Corporations pay people and people pay taxes (well in theory but this year 50% of us didn't pay any taxes from what I hear). This is hard for the socialists but those evil corporations would do much more with that extra money than the government would (as in hire more people - what a concept).

The top federal tax rate on companies should be 10-15% but no more, but those moveon.org people will never learn how the real world works. Here we are with the US economy still in the crapper, where it will remain until we reform the tax laws and stop punishing the "rich".


Posted by Observer, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 20, 2011 at 8:33 pm

Thanks, Lee. Many people miss that point. Google could probably do a lot better job of spending are tax money.

"I think it's the duty of any citizen to pay taxes," Fisher said. "I think we owe it to our society."

Mr. Fisher can go ahead and write another check to the government. Even Obama and Biden made quick use of deductions to avoid paying taxes this year. They obviously figured their deductions to things such a hand-picked charities was better use of their money that giving it all to the State and Federal governments.


Posted by nikonbob, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 21, 2011 at 2:39 pm

@Lee: The idea that the rich are being punished would be funny if it weren't so pathetically true that the rich and the corporations have successfully built a P.R. machine (i.e. Fox News, the Tea Party, Sarah, Bachmann, etc.) that has enough fools believing that what is good for the rich is good for the middle and lower class.

I'm sorry but I just don't see how any rationally thinking person could really believe that giving more tax breaks to the rich will create jobs, and that we should cut much-needed programs to do it.


Posted by David, a resident of another community
on Apr 21, 2011 at 2:48 pm

@Observer. Your commet about Presdient Obama's and Vice President Biden's taxes are off the mark, proving once again how some people simply don't let the facts get in the way of a good story...
Web Link


Posted by Steve, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Apr 22, 2011 at 9:00 am

A line from an Alvin Lee/10 Years After song (1968?)
"Tax the rich, feed the poor, till they all are rich no more"
...doesn't say what you do next. Maybe it really isn't such a workable concept.


Posted by Guv, a resident of Gemello
on Apr 23, 2011 at 9:58 am

Google will create more jobs with the money but will those jobs go to Americans?


Posted by No more taxes, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 24, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Corporations and businesses do as much if not more good in a community by providing jobs than charities. When people have jobs they can provide for their family, support other businesses, buy homes, cars, pay taxes, etc. Jobs also provide an opportunity to give and help others and jobs build self-esteem. If we do not tax charitable organizations because of the good they do, then we should not tax corporations and businesses who also do so much good if not more good than charities for individuals and the community.

Google employs many people and is hiring many more, so why punish them with higher taxes? The Google employees continue to pay taxes and contribute to the community in numerous ways. More employees mean more income taxes, Social Security and Medicare taxes, and employees are consumers, which means more sales and gas taxes, etc. Why kill the geese, that are laying the golden eggs, with more and higher taxes?

Only 45% of US population is employed and we need more employers who are hiring. The countries with the lowest tax rates have the lowest unemployment rates too. We need to reduce not increase corporate taxes.

Low to middle income earners are almost 50% of the population and they do not pay any taxes. Low to middle income earners often receive free or reduced costs for health care, housing, higher education, child care, etc.

Instead of punishing the most creative, productive, and hardworking members of society we should
1. Cut defense - we spend more on defense than the rest of the world combined
Get our military out of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and the hundreds of other countries we are in and stop being the world police. Savings = at least $1 trillion annually
2. End all foreign aid. Savings = at least $500 billion annually
3. End Wall Street, auto, AIG, bank, and homeowner bailouts. Investments can go up and down and if you win big you should be able to lose big too. The taxpayer should not bailout bad investments for anyone. FDIC insured banks should have low risk investments and if Goldman Sachs et al does not like it, then the taxpayer should tell Goldman to invest wherever you want but the taxpayer is not going to bail you out.

The Federal Reserve let Wall Street "borrow" $17 trillion during the economic crisis. Will the taxpayer have to pay the $17 trillion back or will Bernanke let inflation run so our money buys less and the cost of living goes up? Inflation is one of the most insidious taxes.

4. End benefits to immigrants, both legal and illegal, who have not contributed to our system. The US taxpayer, especially the elderly, cannot afford to pay for benefits for immigrants who have not contributed to our system. Many elderly immigrants (like Obama's aunt who came here illegally) get on Medicaid, Medicare, disability, Supplemental Social Security, Section 8 Housing, etc., but they have not contributed anything to these programs.
Immigrants get on our welfare programs and take money away from our elderly and our children, and then immigrants send money to relatives in the counties they are from. Remittances to foreign countries cost the US almost $400 billion annually. The US taxpayer cannot support the world…we cannot even support ourselves!

The aid organizations that bring refugees here should pay for the refugees not the US taxpayer and the immigrant sponsors should pay for the immigrants not the US taxpayer. Corporations should not be the scapegoat for all the ills of society.

Before we raise any more taxes we need to
1. Cut defense spending
2. End foreign aid
3. End the bailouts for Wall Street, banks, GM, AIG, homeowners, etc.
4. End entitlement programs to legal and illegal immigrants who have not contributed to our system
5. Take the cap off Social Security taxes so all income is taxed
6. Raise the retirement age


Posted by Know-It-All, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 25, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Don't even bother! So many people don't even understand the difference and reasons behind why dividend, wage income, and capital gains are taxed differently.

Capital gains are on assets that have already been taxed. Buy a car...it's the same thing, just because the car went up in value doesn't mean you should be taxed at the income tax rate for it. Even cap gains tax is bad enough.

They just want to yell out that GE paid no taxes. Even though all the shareholders know we pay taxes on them.


Posted by Andrea Gemmet, Mountain View Voice Editor
on Apr 27, 2011 at 10:09 am

Andrea Gemmet is a registered user.

This post was moved from a duplicate thread, which has now been closed:

My name is Paul Buffalo La Bonte, that is with an E at the end of the name which despite a great article by Nick Veronin, was misprinted or misspelled. The Tax day Protests by Moveon.org were welcomed by me and I will be very active from that day forward in protests. Either organizing mine own protests or participating with any number of progressive organizations. While I voted for Mr. Obama I now feel it is particularly important that he be replaced by primary ballot with a candidate less likely to lie and forget nearly all of the promises made while on the campaign trail. Like many I had Hope when Obama took office. Now, I can only find the audacity to hope that there could be any so called leaders that truly have the peoples will at the forefront of their issue agendas. Perhaps I shall run, like Nick said I am charismatic and enthusiastic.
by Paul Buffalo La Bonte Apr 25, 2011 at 8:30 pm


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