Members of the Maine People’s Alliance, together with members of the Maine Small Business Coalition, gathered outside Bank of America locations in Portland, Bangor and Augusta today to protest the fact that while millions of Americans are supporting their communities today by paying their federal taxes, corporations like Bank of America aren’t paying a dime, despite having made billions of dollars in profits and having received massive public bailouts and corporate subsidies.
“It’s particularly frustrating for small business owners when we see mega-corporations like Bank of America find ways to get off the hook,” said Betty Ann Sheats, owner of a remodeling company from Auburn who spoke outside the Portland Bank of America branch. “Their tax dodging tilts the playing field against small business and starves our local economies of the resources we need to invest in our future and get our economy back on track.”
MPA released a report on how Bank of America has avoided paying its fair share of taxes by using offshore subsidiaries that are registered in tax havens, like the Cayman Islands. From 2009-2011, Bank of America didn’t pay any taxes and actually received $5 billion in federal income tax refunds, while handing out $35 million in bonuses in 2011 alone.
“For Bank of America, a profit and loss statement means a tally of how much they’re profiting and how much we’re losing,” said Maine People’s Alliance Lead Organizer Gen Lysen. “They don’t pay taxes, they’ve wrongfully foreclosed on thousands of homes, they refuse to lend to small businesses and they’re laying off tens of thousands of workers while giving their CEO a ten million dollar bonus.”
Bank of America has lobbied hard to maintain federal tax loopholes and to make it harder for their customers to seek relief from their lending practices. They spent more than $10 million on lobbyists from Jan 2009 to Jun 2011 and gave $9.5 million in federal political contributions during the 2008 and 2010 election cycles.
“True democracy is when everyone has a voice, not just those who line the pockets of our politicians,” said Heidi Brooks, an MPA member speaking in Augusta. “We’ve hearing a lot these days about deficits, and how we must cut services to the most needy: the old, the young, the sick, the working poor. Shame on Bank of America and other corporations for shirking their responsibilities and encouraging these lies. Shame on our elected officials for believing them.”