[COMM-ORG] Next wave of NY revenue fight

Discussion list for COMM-ORG colist at comm-org.wisc.edu
Sat Jan 14 11:36:14 CST 2012

From: "Sean Barry, VOCAL-NY" <sean at vocal-ny.org>

VOCAL-NY joined with a broad coalition of community, labor, student,
faith and Occupy groups yesterday to launch a new campaign to raise $1
billion in new revenue for jobs and public services through closing
corporate and hedge fund tax loopholes. View a list of New York's worst
corporate tax dodgers at http://bit.ly/yofsDb.

Coverage from the campaign launch included the story copied below by YNN
Capitol Region TV that led with VOCAL-NY Board member Bobby Tolbert.

Last year, VOCAL-NY, CVH and other NPA affiliates in NY focused on the
PIT and an extension of the millionaires tax. Following the partial
victory last month that maintained some progressivity in the state PIT
rate, we plan to continue advocacy around a NYS Tax Reform and Fairness
Commission that was set up to develop more permanent rates.

YNN: Groups argue corporate tax rate fix could mean billions for NYS (w/
VIDEO at http://bit.ly/xHFMvI)
By: Steve Ference

It's been a hot-button topic, especially as Republicans vie to challenge
President Obama in this year's election and Occupy protests continue in
many parts of the country. The issue, the tax system. A coalition of New
York groups made their case that the corporate tax system has to be
fixed if some companies aren't paying their fair share. But fair share
is of course, in the eye of the beholder. Our Steve Ference has the story.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- "When it comes to the budget deficit, ‘shared sacrifice’
has become cover to be able to attack the poor and vulnerable," said
[VOCAL-NY leader and Board member] Bobby Tolbert, who said he is
HIV-positive and fears possible cuts to medical and housing programs to
keep state budget deficits in check.

Tolbert said, "Tax loopholes and corrupt bank investments, foreclosures,
have turned the American dream to a nightmare.”

Tolbert joined a coalition of group, unions and teacher and services
advocates to call on some corporations to pay more in taxes, what they
say would be their "fair share."

Michael Kink, with the Strong Economy for All Coalition, said, "A
large-scale new effort to raise over a billion dollars for this year's
state budget."

They cite companies that they say pay a lower rate than the 4.1 percent
a family of four in New York making $58,000 a year pays. According to
Citizens for Tax Justice, American Express, Verizon, Goldman Sachs and
News Corp hade billions in profits from 2008 to 2010, paying millions or
hundreds of millions in taxes during the same time period to all states
and local governments, but paying only a couple percent in taxes. Still,
the stats aren't without their caveats.

Frank Mauro of the Fiscal Policy Institute admitted, "These might be
wonderful citizens for New York. This is a national average, but we
don't have a roadmap. What we need is transparency and we need
disclosure at the state level - what are you paying in corporate income

And they're also not without controversy. Verizon called it a "tired
refrain" from the unions, but said that they pay their fair share,
comply with all tax laws, and from 2006 to 2010 paid out more than $7.5
billion in state and federal taxes alone. Goldman Sachs told us they
have no comment, but they had paid a higher rate, above 30 percent,
before the economic downturn according to some reports. The other
corporations did not return our calls and e-mails.

Now the question is will state leaders hear the message and then
actually do something about it? Though, the governor did say broadly
that he wants to make New York's tax system the fairest in the nation.

Kink said, "In the same way that last year the governor and legislature
made a down payment on tax fairness by closing tax gaps between the rich
poor and asking the tax reform and fairness commission to look at a
long-term approach, this year we think the same thing can be done for
corporate tax loopholes."

This, a battle over transparency, and which way to look through the
budget shortfall prism, as corporations paying millions and even
billions in total taxes say they're doing their part, and an
increasingly vocal opposition claims those percentages need to be much
higher to fill state coffers to pay for programs many depend on.

-- Sean Barry VOCAL-NY (formerly the NYC AIDS Housing Network - NYCAHN)
646-373-3344 (cell) | sean at vocal-ny.org www.VOCAL-NY.org Please like us
on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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