The 99% to Wells Fargo & the MN Chamber of Commerce: Put Us First For Once!

Rally and March highlight role of tax-dodging Wells Fargo in pushing the agenda of the top 1% as 2012 Minnesota Legislative Session begins

Wells FargoTax Dodger

Signs of the times: Wells Fargo, Pay Your Fair Share

This afternoon, as the 2012 session of the Minnesota Legislature began, more than 100 Minnesotans marched from the downtown Saint Paul offices of Wells Fargo, which they confronted for dodging billions in taxes, to the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce’s annual “Session Priorities” gala at the St. Paul RiverCentre. At the annual event, the Chamber, under the leadership of Wells Fargo Executive Vice President Jon Campbell tells legislators how to vote in the days and weeks ahead.

“Over the last ten years, I have seen my hours reduced, my health care costs increase, and my paychecks shrink,” said Terri Buttleman of West Saint Paul, a special education paraprofessional who spoke at the event. “Yet, I continue to pay my fair share of taxes. I am part of the 99%. I am furious with what I see happening to our school children as they go without while Wells Fargo shuttles money to 19 offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands and dodges 18 billion in federal taxes.”

While more and more Minnesotans struggle to make ends meet, including paying their taxes, Wells Fargo dodged $18 billion in federal income taxes from 2008-10 through loopholes, paying an effective tax rate of less than zero. As many in Minnesota’s 99% struggle to pay their heating bills this winter, Wells Fargo has 19 subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands, a tropical tax haven. Minnesotans who have had enough of such skewed priorities and corporate irresponsibility assembled this afternoon to speak out.

Upon entering the RiverCentre, the group was asked to leave by facility security. However, they remained near the entrance, continuing with mic-check speeches, ensuring those who entered heard the priorities of the 99%.

terri and robin

Robin Lewis (left) speaks outside the meeting, while Terri Buttleman (center) listens.

“Wells Fargo robs my daughter’s education doubly,” said Robin Lewis, a member of the community organization Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC) of Minneapolis. “The first way is by not paying its fair share of taxes. The second way is by not working with homeowners in Minneapolis to keep their homes. The foreclosure crisis devastating our communities is directly responsible for draining $150 million from the Minneapolis Public Schools. One of the biggest culprits is Wells Fargo, who alone is responsible for $28 million (nearly 20%) of that total,” Lewis said. Lewis is the parent of a 14-year old daughter who attends Minneapolis Public Schools. Lewis also spoke at today’s rally.

The March and Rally for the 99% was organized by SEIU Local 284, MN Neighborhoods Organizing for Change and Minnesotans for a Fair Economy, an organization that brings together community, faith and labor activists.

More on Wells Fargo and its taxes:

The recent Citizens for Tax Justice report, “Corporate Taxpayers & Corporate Tax Dodgers, 2008-2010, lists 249 corporations that paid less than their fair share in federal corporate income taxes in 2010.  In other words, 249 of the country’s largest and most profitable corporations paid less than the U.S. statutory corporate tax rate of 35% in 2010. Instead, these 249 companies, including Wells Fargo, received a 2010 federal tax subsidy ‘totaling over $87.27 billion.

The fact sheets below break this down three ways, two by what services and infrastructure Wells Fargo’s share would pay for nationally and in Minnesota, and what the Minnesota share from all 249 corporations would pay for.

Fact Sheet on Corporate  Tax Dodging and Federal Program Spending: Wells Fargo’s portion, nationwide [pdf file]

Fact Sheet on Federal Tax Dodging and Program Effect in Minnesota: Wells Fargo’s portion [pdf file]

Fact Sheet on Corporate Tax Dodging and Federal Program Spending in Minnesota [pdf file]

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