WatchSonoma Watch

Tax Day protests target BofA

Matthew Howard joined with other protesters in downtown Santa Rosa on Monday to voice their belief that Bank of America doesn't pay enough in taxes. BETH SCHLANKER/PD


Protesters upset with corporate tax breaks marked Monday’s tax filing deadline by staging a demonstration outside the Bank of America branch in downtown Santa Rosa.

The noon rally was part of a nationwide series of protests organized by MoveOn, a liberal advocacy group. A similar demonstration was scheduled Monday evening at the Bank of America branch in Sonoma.

Participants said they wanted to draw attention to corporations that avoid paying taxes at a time when all levels of government are making painful budget cuts.

“I pay, you pay, why doesn’t B of A?” declared a sign waved by Sammy Nasr, 64, a retired printer from Sebastopol.

Nasr and other demonstrators briefly stormed into the bank’s lobby and presented the manager with an invoice for about $3 billion, the amount they say Bank of America should have paid in taxes.

“Things are unbalanced, and they’re not going to change because CEOs decide to change,” said Santa Rosa nurse Gail Simons, 62. She held a blue umbrella with a bumper sticker stating “Take back the wealth.”

Kristina Marguglio, who manages the Bank of America branch, said she wasn’t supposed to comment about the protest.

“It was pretty disruptive,” she said.

The bank didn’t pay income taxes for the 2010 calendar year because it reported a $4.5 billion loss, bank spokeswoman Colleen Haggerty said. However the bank paid $2 billion in payroll, property, sales, state and local taxes, she said.

“They have the right to their opinions but the facts are that in 2010 Bank of America paid over $2 billion in taxes last year,” Haggerty said.

The “Make Them Pay” demonstrations were promoted on the websites of MoveOn and the Sonoma County Democratic Party and spread through email lists.

The MoveOn website listed more than 300 events across the country Monday targeting General Electric, Google, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and other major corporations. It claims the companies are using loopholes in the tax code to avoid paying their fair share.

“It shows people are aware,” said Myrna Spiegler, 68, a retired Sonoma County employee who participated in the Santa Rosa demonstration.

Spiegler said she filed for a tax extension but expects to owe money when she files later in the spring. She is upset with the concentration of wealth in America.

“I’m willing to pay (taxes) but I think it’s really unfair that 1 percent controls all the wealth,” Spiegler said.

26 Responses to “Tax Day protests target BofA”

  1. Josh Stevens says:

    @ Mockingbird

    I’m not clueless,you need to grow up.

    Why is it that when someone acquires a certain level of wealth,their incomes and property suddenly become public property?

    Who gets to decide when someone has “Made Enough Money”?

    You CLEARLY feel entitled to other people’s money,so here’s a solution:

    Let’s start the Department of Fabulous Wages.

    At the D.F.W,our mission is to make sure NOBODY feels poor or taken advantage of by their productive neighbors.

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  2. GAJ says:

    You do realize that Pension Funds are huge investors in these companies, including CalPers and their ilk.

    Those shareholders, big and small, demand companies they invest in make every effort to minimize their tax burdens within the law and thereby maximize shareholder returns.

    If you want the laws changed you’ll have to demand action from Congress and also demand that your Pension Administrators not invest in these companies.

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  3. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Josh Stevens, the top 10% (if that’s accurate anyway) may pay 70% of the taxes BUT THEY HAVE A HELL OF A LOT LEFT OVER TO LIVE IN LUXURY. They also own the bulk of wealth in this country. The don’t pay their fair share for the infrastructure they need and use everyday to do their business. We even protect them with our military overseas.

    When I pay my taxes I’m lucky to have enough to pay my bills at the end of the month. I certainly can’t live in luxury. I suspect it’s the same for you.

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  4. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Good post Buster Brown. Wallstreet is manipulating the price by gambling on oil and commodity futures and making millions on the backs of the middleclass businesses, the middleclass, and the poor who are paying the higher prices. There is currently no shortage of oil in this country. The lower value of the dollar will increase the price of gas but that’s a fraction of the increases we are experiencing. Our federal government has set up a committee to investigate the gambling on Wallstreet but the results will likely take months if not years. We need relief right now!

    As for the Bank of America and the other large financial corporations, it’s time to SWITCH YOUR MONEY to a small local bank or credit union. The Exchange Bank and the Redwood Credit Union has always given me great service. The Exchange Bank staff know my name when I walk into the bank. There are other small banks and credit unions waiting in this county to give you the service you can’t get from these big “rip off the consumer” banks.

    Switch your business to local banks and boost the economy of this county.

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  5. James Bennett says:

    Appropriate protest-good job.

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  6. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Josh Stevens you’re clueless. Those top 10% have plenty left over, and overall are paying less percentage in taxes (if any taxes)on their income because they are able to shelter so much of it. THEY’RE STILL RICH. No one begrudges their riches. What we begrudge is that the rest of us are in a depression while they are in a financial boomtime. Also, that they use the infrastructure and really don’t pay their fair share.

    The irony is that I don’t think most rich people would mind paying more in taxes because they won’t even miss the money. It’s the big corporation and billionaires like the Koch Brothers spending billions of dollars buying our elections and lobbying. They’re the ones that are hoarding money, deliberately not creating jobs so this economy will stay bad for we little people. They are quite happy by people being out of work and hurting. They have workers fighting among themselves while they laugh at us all the way to the bank.

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  7. BusterBrown says:

    April 19, 2011 at 8:49 am

    More taxation is not the answer. Modern governments have spending problems, not revenue problems.”


    “workers’ paychecks aren’t getting smaller, their expenses are just getting larger!”

    The “Spending Problem” is due to artificial manipulations of prices for which increases are not met with simultaneous income increases. Keep pluggin’ that line, though, Jamal.

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  8. FedUp says:

    @Linda H – I’m sure we all support taxing corporations and millionaires. The Ryan budget proposal would do exactly that. By overhauling the tax code, removing the underbrush of exemptions that have been piled one upon another over the years, the rates can be lowered (less economic drag) while ensuring everyone pays their fair share. The corporate rate is now 35% but the average company pays just 17%. The Ryan budget (as was also recommended by Obama’s Fiscal Commission) would lower the rate to 25% but would increase the amount of average corporate taxes paid by 7-8%. These facts of course won’t stop the Democrats from demagogueing it a a \tax break for the wealthy\.

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  9. Josh Stevens says:

    The top 10% of wage earners in this country pay roughly 70% of all taxes-That’s a fact.

    We have done an abysmal job of educating ourselves on economics.And the ranks of The Clueless,seem to keep growing.

    Too many Americans are not willing to live within their means,period.

    And there is no level of taxation that can cure that problem.

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  10. Linda H says:

    I support the concept of taxing large corporations and millionaires. The tax rate is at a 50 year low. We need to bank locally if Bank of America is not willing to pay their fair share of taxes. BofA also has the worst loan modification record of all the major banks, they also have the largest number of accounts in the Cayman Islands.

    As consumers we need to send a message to corporations – “we expect you to pay taxes and support our country”

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  11. FedUp says:

    JoeM, you turn our Constitution on its ear. Our Founders, followers the Lockean theories on Social Contract all, believed as did Locke that private property rights are the basis for all other rights. We band together as a nation, forfeiting some of our individual sovereignty, in order to protect those rights from threats both foreign and domestic. Your collectivist notion of economic justice (which in its essence is the mob saying you got it, we want it, hand it over) would be abhorrent to them as it should be to all freedom-loving Americans.

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  12. FedUp says:

    The corporations are only doing what all of us do, attempt to minimize our tax obligation by taking full advantage of the exemptions and deductions offered us. Let us not forget that these exemptions were written into the tax code largely by Democrats who have controlled Congress for the lion’s share of the past 60 years. The Left has been trying to use the tax code as a means of social engineering since the New Deal and are now outraged that companies are following the rules they made? Hilarious.

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  13. @RICHARD CANINI, the point’s on the flyer well taken…but what about protesting the FED’s and the Government for their part in this accepted behavior of picking and choosing who will and who won’t have abide by the law each and everyone should have to abide by “equally?” I find it amusing the unions are basically picking and choosing villains.

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  14. JoeM says:


    Did you know that the countries of the world with the highest per capita incomes also have the highest tax rates, over 50%? So maybe they’re doing something right.

    Did you know the USA has the second lowest tax burden of the industrialized countries, less than 30%, with only Australia lower, around 20%?

    Did you know our tax burden relative to our GNP is at a historical low, or that corporate profits relative to our GNP is at a historical high?

    Please be a more careful when repeating disinformation. We can’t have a conversation without the facts.

    We have a temporary spending problem brought on by the recession, we have very large long term taxation problem, relative to what other successful countries are doing, and relative to what has worked for us in the past.

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  15. JoeM says:

    You got a fact, I got a stat, but rarely have I seen people so miss the point. We are a nation which spent 200 years striving for equality and economic justice.

    That is not socialism, that is democracy, if you don’t like it, leave it, or change it, but don’t claim to be a great patriotic American, because you are in fact EXACTLY against what our constitution stands for.

    We are faced with the biggest disparity of equality and economic justice since before Teddy Roosevelt. Even more troubling, we have reversed the course of 200 years.

    We either take the steps to bring equality back to our Democracy, or we can stop calling it that.

    People are not socialists or liberals because they believe in equality and opportunity for all, they are good AMERICANS, by definition. So what are you?

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  16. GreedBreeds says:

    I can agree that a pure socialist state cannot exist, but neither are we a pure capitalistic state.

    Taxes are supposed to help with services that the public cannot provide for themselves since we are so dependent on authority to handle big projects. Example: We have roads, hospitals, schools, free and low-cost services because of taxes. That, we can be proud of.

    However, the level of dissent expressed by many honest taxpaying Americans also brings to light that people are aware that our tax dollars are also being misused. And that the way we tax people still reeks of the fantasy we have toward \trickle-down economics\ Yes, let’s give the rich a tax break so they can reinvest in society. WRONG. The off-shore accounts and lavish bank accounts tell another story. Why are these folks not featured on that show \Hoarders\?

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  17. FedUp says:

    I agree with the sign holder – “No representation without taxation”.

    So the half of the population that pays no federal income tax forfeits their right to vote. Now _that_ would bring fiscal sanity to the government in a hurry.

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  18. good one says:

    since the supreme court has ruled that corporations now have the rights of individuals, wouldn’t ya think that corporations should be taxed as individuals?????

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  19. Jamal says:

    More taxation is not the answer. Modern governments have spending problems, not revenue problems.

    Most of the people in this tiny rally are clearly members of government unions. They’re trying to scapegoat private companies when they are in fact the problem.

    As a rule we need to consistently under fund government. Otherwise we get into this type of mess we’re looking at. We had a few good years with the public asleep at the switch and government unions went on a grabbing spree.

    Remember that government by definition means that it uses violence and coercion to accomplish its goals. Much better to do it without violence, i.e. private sector.

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  20. Common Sense says:

    Why is that I should be able to profit or benefit from others work and accumulation of money and assets? Not everyone has the motivation or desire to be rich.
    Most people I know didn’t and don’t support corporate bail outs by government of private companies, that’s not their job and no business is too big to fail. But I also have NO rights to others earned wealth. The beauty of this country is that we have the opportunity to earn our own wealth, or at leat we used to. And the purpose of the tax system to provide the operation of government according to their constitutionally mandated functions. Social programs should be local and grass roots run and organized.
    Also, having recently checked the IRS webpage, it’s easy to determine that a small majority of business and individual’s pay 90% or more of both the corporate and personal income taxes in this country. How many people who are complaining about businesses taking advantage of the written tax laws, do so themselves on an individual basis to save money and reinvest in your family? How many of you took numerous deductions for children, interest, etc? I’m guessing a vast majority. WAKE UP folks, this isn’t about kool aid or even politics, it’s about applying basic principals of economics and government that made us a great country. We’ve all become a little to entitled, even me, and if we don’t replace the entitled attitude with a lets do it together from the bottom up attitude, then we are destined for some very difficult times ahead.

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  21. Happy To Pay Those Taxes & Fees says:

    Hope you all had fun paying your taxes today while millions of others said no thanks.

    These crony capitalists like GE and BofA are usually in bed with the likes of MoveOn. I wonder what happened here?

    They are on the same page to socialism in our great country and there must have been a miscommunication between the Obama regime and MoveOn.

    Well, they will have to regroup.

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  22. Greg Karraker says:

    I support requiring BofA to pay their fair share of taxes. But I find it supremely ironic that these protests were sponsored by MoveOn.org. whose large contributor, George Soros, chooses to headquarter his business in Curacao, making him responsible for $0 in corporate taxes. I’m proud to point out the miscreants on my side of the political divide; why are you Progressives so reluctant to criticize the wrongdoers on your side?

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  23. Ken Sportini says:


    Hey, I know, it’s the teachers and other public unions who need to pay more. Noreen Evans needs to give up her car allowance and take public transportation or ride her bike.

    Those are the real problems plaguing us, right?

    Ace reporting from the PD proves it.

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  24. Ken Sportini says:


    Read this week’s Bohemian, the only paper in Sonoma County that actually does substantive reporting.


    It’s good you like the Kool Aid your corporate masters feed you.

    \But people forget that income tax makes up less than half of all federal taxes, and only one-fifth of taxes at all leves of government. SS, Medicare and unemployment taxes are paid mostly by the bottom 90% of wage earners…Warren Buffet pays the same amount of SS taxes as someone who earns $106,000.\

    The taxes on the richest 400 has been slashed and they pay about 16%. The vast majority of Americans pay about 22.5%.

    Many of the very richest pay no taxes at all. A friend of Glenn Beck made $9B in two years. He paid ZERO in taxes.

    The owners of the Dodgers pay no taxes.

    The top 300,000 Americans enjoy as much income as the bottom 150M Americans.

    Supply side economics don’t work. But people like you keep that lie going.

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  25. RICHARD CANINI says:


    Bank of America [BOA] paid no income tax for 2009 and 2010.

    BOA uses loopholes to avoid $13 Billion in taxes.

    BOA operates 371 tax shelters, 204 in Cayman Islands tax haven.

    BOA, other big banks and their rich clients dodge taxes thru loopholes and tax havens.

    BOA’s CEO makes about $10 Million more per year than a public employee.

    BOA’s reckless speculation contributed to US homeowners losing $9 Trillion and states to lose hundreds of billions in taxes.

    You could help by moving your money to a local bank/credit union: https://www.hellowallet.com/mym/list.php

    SEE ALSO: http://www.baxterbulletin.com/article/20110411/OPINION01/104110319/Chuck-Collins-Congress-could-tap-400-billion-year?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|s

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  26. Skippy says:

    The last line about 1% controlling the wealth is priceless.
    I wonder if these leeches even care that the top 1% pay 38% of taxes.
    Or that the top 10% pay 70%.
    I guess that’s not enough for these Reds.
    What is interesting on this Tax Day is that 45% of American taxpayers pay no taxes at all, and actually are sent checks by the Feds.
    That’s my money and yours being redistributed.
    We have arrived at the end of the Republic, for when half the population can vote themselves into the wallets of the other half, it’s game over for the nation.
    Socialism only works until you run out of other people’s money.

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