'Dodgeball' protesters say GE ducks fair-share taxes
Tuesday was "Tax Day" -- the deadline for Americans to file their federal income tax returns or ask for an extension.
But a few taxpayers spent time in front of General Electric's corporate headquarters on Easton Turnpike to protest what they say is a failure on the part of GE and other large businesses to pay their "fair share" in taxes.
The protesters play a game of dodgeball on a grassy area in front of the secured entrance to the GE property Tuesday afternoon, with the players dressed in top hats representing the "1 percent" top-level taxpayers dodging the flying missiles from the 99 percent. Chants of "GE, pay your taxes!" and "GE, we need jobs!" filled the air as some passing motorists honked their car horns.
"We have a lot of families that are still struggling," said protester Lindsay Farrell, executive director of the Connecticut Working Families Party. She said local and state governments are struggling to maintain their infrastructure and provide services. "We paid our taxes," she said. "They need to pay their fair share."
The "Tax Dodger Dodgeball" protest was organized by the Connecticut Alliance for a Fair Economy, a loose-knit group of students, union members, the unemployed and underemployed, interfaith groups and advocacy groups.
Matt O'Connor, a member of SEIU Local 32, said he believes this type of protest has helped to make a difference. "I think the narrative in this country has changed," O'Connor said. The wealthy, he said, have recovered from the recession, "while working families are still struggling."
He said he'd like to see President Obama's cabinet members and advisers expand to include some representatives of actual working families and not just people like GE CEO Jeffrey Imelt. "We'd like to have a voice in the White House and our president paying attention ... I think public opinion matters."
The protesters contend that in 2010 GE owed $1.7 billion in taxes, but instead claimed a refund of $3.2 billion.
GE, on its website www.gereports.com, said the company "pays what it owes under the law and is scrupulous about its compliance with tax obligations in all jurisdictions." According to GE, it paid "significant income tax" in 2010, and almost $2.7 billion in cash taxes that year. The $3.2 billion figure cited by protesters, the website said, was not a payment received from the government but a "tax benefit" reported in financial statements, and "is not the same as our cash tax liability or cash tax payments."
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