Unfair tax rates are the topic du jour when it comes to inequality in America and protesters in Hollywood put the issue center stage on Wednesday afternoon with a march down Hollywood's Sunset Boulevard to highlight what they called FedEx's excesssively low rate.
Organized by Good Jobs LA, Service Employees International Union, the Teamsters and a smattering of Occupy LA members, the protestors took to the streets at noon with bullhorns, drums and provocative signs, traveling from the CNN building at Cahuenga Boulevard to a FedEx branch at Vine Street to deliver boxes of what they called "unpaid" tax bills.
Good Jobs LA claims that FedEx received a federal tax subsidy of more than $552 million, which could have created over 1,000 jobs, contributed tens of millions for Medicaid and food stamp benefits, and added more than $11 million for education programs.
Good Jobs LA points out FedEx is part of a group of 78 companies that paid less than 1 percent tax for at least one year from 2008 to 2010, according to the study "Corporate Taxpayers & Corporate Tax Dodgers." FedEx paid a rate of -3.2 percent, according to the study.
The study, published in November by Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, lists, among other things, companies that paid a tax of 1 percent or less for at least one year from 2008 to 2010. When the report was released, the Washington Post highlighted companies on the list that actually paid a negative tax rate, including General Electric (-45 percent) and Pepco Holdings (-118 percent).
Anyone outraged by companies finding enough loopholes to legally dodge their 35 percent tax responsibility would have fit right in with the protesters in Hollywood Wednesday. Signs with messages like "We Are The 99%" and "If protesting is terrorism, Martin Luther King Jr. would be in Gitmo" made an appearance. The marchers also noted with pleasure that they loudly passed by the office buildings of other large corporations.
Refugio Mata, a spokesperson for Good Jobs LA, explained to The Huffington Post over the phone that the banks have come under activists' scrutiny for their foreclosure and consumer practices, while Verizon and FedEx are companies that paid less than 1 percent of taxes per year from 2008 to 2010.
By 1:30 p.m., the march had ended, and by 2 p.m. the protesters had already dispersed. Mata claimed that there were no confrontations between what she estimated were 400 gathered protesters and the riot units of assembled police. Officer Larry Park, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department, told The Huffington Post that the march was peaceful and there were no incidents.
A FedEx employee at the Hollywood branch declined to comment to The Huffington Post but confirmed that the company closed only for a short period of time.
View a selection of photos of the event posted on Twitter.