US Uncut protested Apple stores this weekend to oppose the company’s federal tax dodging practices. The group staged a series of “dance-in” protests in stores nationwide.
Specifically, the group has taken issue with Apple’s support of the “Win America Campaign,” which would allow Apple to keep $4 billion (overall corporations would shelter $80 billion in taxes) that might otherwise have gone back to the federal government during a time of severe economic austerity. Members of the Win America coalition include Microsoft, Cisco Systems, Kodak, Google, Oracle and Adobe Systems.
US Uncut Boston:
Technology companies are infamous for this kind of tax dodging behavior. For example, Google and Microsoft both funnel profits through tax havens in Ireland and the Netherlands. Overall, the funneling scheme costs the United States about $60 billion every year.
US Uncut DC:
During a time when teachers are losing their jobs, US Uncut says it’s unjust to place the bulk of economic burden on the shoulders of the poor, especially when those who caused the financial collapse with shady derivatives trading go unpunished.
“Our rallying cry is, ‘we all pay our taxes, and why don’t they?’” said Ryan Clayton, a co-founder of US Uncut. “At the same time as we’re firing firefighters, teachers and cops, it’s just really irresponsible for them to not be paying their fair share of the public burden.”
“The middle class has to make that up, either through cuts, or through higher middle-class taxes,” he said.
Most outrageously, Apple isn’t even the worst offender. The company’s effective tax rate of 24 percent is still a larger percentage than other tech companies pay, such as Google, Hewlett-Packard, Yahoo and eBay.
But it is Apple’s brand popularity and largely positive public reception that attracted US Uncut, though protesters have taken issue with Apple’s labor practices in the company’s outsourced factories and privacy policies in the past.
“Most of the other companies aren’t really gonna give a damn if we go after them. They’re not concerned for their reputation. [With Apple] there’s a little more leverage,” [says] US Uncut spokesperson Joanne Gifford.
Another US Uncut spokesperson further explains why Apple was targeted:
“If we can put enough shame on Apple’s brand by showing up at their stores, we can hopefully get Steve Jobs and the Apple team to leave the WinAmerica campaign.”
Reports indicate that one of the livelier protests on Saturday occurred in Madison, Wisconsin’s Apple store located in West Towne Mall. Madison Twitter user @annelyttle tweeted a series of photos from the protest, adding “Nefarious #taxdodger #Apple keeps trying to kick us out of their store but we’re coming in waves. #usuncut.”