Portland activists use pizza giveaway to help deliver tax day message against ‘corporate loopholes’

Posted April 15, 2013, at 7:45 p.m.
Richard Slosburg of Portland reaches for a slice of pizza handed out on tax day by the Maine People's Alliance outside the post office on Forest Avenue Monday. The small slices of pie are meant to represent the small amounts of tax they say are paid by corporations.
Richard Slosburg of Portland reaches for a slice of pizza handed out on tax day by the Maine People's Alliance outside the post office on Forest Avenue Monday. The small slices of pie are meant to represent the small amounts of tax they say are paid by corporations. Buy Photo
Maine People's Alliance organizer Kevin Simowitz and his colleagues hand out tiny slices of pizza outside the post office on Forest Avenue in Portland Monday.
Maine People's Alliance organizer Kevin Simowitz and his colleagues hand out tiny slices of pizza outside the post office on Forest Avenue in Portland Monday. Buy Photo
Maine's People's Alliance organizers hold signs outside the post office on Forest Avenue in Portland Monday
Maine's People's Alliance organizers hold signs outside the post office on Forest Avenue in Portland Monday Buy Photo
Maine People's Alliance organizer Kevin Simowitz and his colleagues hand out tiny slices of pizza outside th post office on Forest Avenue in Portland Monday.
Maine People's Alliance organizer Kevin Simowitz and his colleagues hand out tiny slices of pizza outside th post office on Forest Avenue in Portland Monday. Buy Photo
Amelia Mitter-Burke and Jim Devine of the Maine People's Alliance hand out fliers on tax day outside the post office on Forest Avenue in Portland.
Amelia Mitter-Burke and Jim Devine of the Maine People's Alliance hand out fliers on tax day outside the post office on Forest Avenue in Portland. Buy Photo

PORTLAND, Maine — Activists from the left-leaning Maine People’s Alliance gave out pizza to Mainers mailing in their tax filings Monday to represent what one volunteer called “the tiny slices corporations are paying” in taxes.

While giving out pizza, Maine People’s Alliance volunteers outside Portland’s Forest Avenue post office Monday afternoon also asked passers-by to sign a petition urging Maine’s congressional delegation to support the closure of “corporate tax loopholes” that they say allow major corporations to shelter profits in offshore bank accounts to avoid paying U.S. taxes.

Organization activists also used tax day as the hook for a demonstration in Bangor on Monday, where they joined other community groups to call on Congress to spend less tax dollars on the military and more on transportation, education and renewable energy, among other things.

In Portland, the group highlighted a report by the liberal nonprofit U.S. Public Interest Research Group claiming that corporations and wealthy individuals avoid paying $150 billion in U.S. taxes annually by taking advantage of out-of-country tax havens. As a result, the Maine People’s Alliance representatives said Monday that Maine individuals pay $642 more per year and the state’s small businesses pay $1,614 more annually to offset the lost federal revenue.

“People are sharing their stories about how their taxes are the highest they’ve ever been,” MPA demonstrator Amelia Mitter-Burke said in Portland Monday afternoon. “They’re feeling that tax burden falling on their shoulders. Plus, they like pizza.”

Jim Devine, handing out the slivers of cheese pizza, said the slight sizes of the wedges were intentional.

“It symbolizes the tiny slices corporations are paying,” he said.

Richard Slosberg of Portland was one of the individuals who stopped to talk with the demonstrators on their way by Monday.

“I think their message is the right message,” he said. “These corporate loopholes are silly.”

Not everybody entering the post office agreed, however.

“Yeah, those rich people are awful, giving poor kids jobs,” one man, who walked away before the BDN could ask his name, said sarcastically before telling the demonstrators, “Why don’t you get to work and leave their fair shares alone?”

Upstate in Bangor, Maine People’s Alliance representatives focused their efforts on how the federal government spends its tax revenue instead of where it comes from.

During a rally in Bangor, organization activists called on Congress to “stop spending tax dollars on wasteful Pentagon programs and obsolete weapons systems,” according to an MPA announcement Monday.

The group cited a National Priorities Project report which argues that 26.5 cents out of every tax dollar goes to the Pentagon, while 1.4 cents is spent on transportation, 2.1 cents is spent on energy and 3.5 cents on education.

“More than a quarter of every tax dollar that goes to the federal government goes straight to the Pentagon and much of that money goes to inflated contracts with defense contractors and unneeded weapons systems rather than to our troops and veterans,” said Marie Pineo, a mother from Bangor, in a statement released by the alliance. “We need Congress to make choices that keep us safe while investing in programs we depend on, not lining the pockets of defense contractors.”

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