Citizen action groups gathered outside of the Thompson Center in Chicago on Fat Tuesday to call on Illinois “fat cats” to give back to the community. The way to give back, the groups say, is for the state to close tax loopholes that benefit corporations and leave the state struggling to fund social services. The Lakeview Action Coalition, Northside Power, Make Wall Street Pay Illinois, and Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation say there are three tax loopholes that the state must abolish:
The first is at the federal level, where companies can write down capital investments instead of depreciating them over time. The state is coupled to the program and decoupling could result in $1.01 billion in state coffers over three years.
The second loophole allows retailers to keep 1.75 percent of what they collect as a processing fee for collecting state taxes. The groups say this cost Illinois $109 million in 2010.
The third loophole is the “single sales factor,” which can lower what a multi-state company must pay in taxes based only on the percentage of sales in a particular state.
Standing outside the Thompson Center, where the governor has his office on the 16th floor, Lois Parr, a pastor and a board member of Lakeview Action Coalition, told a crowd of roughly 50 people that it was time for the “fat cat” corporations to repent in this Lenten season. “We’re here today to help these fat cats repent,” Parr said. “If a corporation is a person it should be ready to repent, right?” Parr shouted through a bullhorn, referencing the U.S. Supreme Court decision that lets corporations make political contributions, the same as individuals. Shani Smith with Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation says an example of how corporate tax breaks don’t help the community are those handed out to Sears and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. She says corporate tax cuts to state coffers hurt communities. “Families are out of work, homes are closing, schools are closing but they’re getting corporate welfare,” Smith said. “So who are the true welfare kings and queens?” Sears actually announced job cuts after the tax deal.