Home > Around Town > Tax Day Brings Protesters, Procrastinators to Downtown Post Office
Tax Day Brings Protesters, Procrastinators to Downtown Post Office
By Gloria Diaz
Fort Wayne Reader
Huge, funny, patriotic hats, lots of signs, and a kid chained to a giant weight, which read, “I owe $60, 846.” A gentleman handing out flyers. An anti-tax rally? Close.
For most of us, April 17 was Tax Day. Hundreds of cars were lined up at the downtown post office, handing envelopes over to postal workers. Others saw it as a prime opportunity to educate. Members of the Libertarian Party handed out fake invoices telling American citizens and taxpayers just how much they really owe the United States government. It’s a shocker. Figuring in the interest, the amount comes to $60,834. For your information, that is a hell of a lot more than I make in a year. It’s probably way more than you make in a year, too. And the Libertarians aren’t happy about that.
Robert Enders, treasurer of the Allen County Libertarian Party, was handing out the invoices to motorists as they dropped off their returns.
“We’re making sure the public knows about the growing national debt: it doesn’t get lower from year to year,” says Enders. “The deficit gets higher, year after year. It’s fiscally irresponsible. The government is wasting money on the bridge to nowhere. We don’t think paying taxes is a bad thing, but we think it’s important to pay for essential services, like say, police, paving the streets, not frivolous projects.”
The amount that taxpayers owe, $60, 834, was calculated by taking the national debt (more than $8,885,000,000,000.00) and dividing it by the total number of employed Americans (approximately 146,300,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics). This means that even if you’re only working 10 hours a week at Wal-mart, you owe big bucks too.
Tycho Jaquish, 12, volunteered to be wrapped in chains, literally tethered to a financial weight that will get even bigger before he’s old enough to work his first job requiring a W2 form. He was at the post office, along with his mother, Jeannette. This is his second year of protesting. How would he solve the debt? “Have everyone pay for themselves.” Hey, all you Corporate America welfare queens, are you listening?
Jon Bartels, vice chair of the Allen County Libertarian Party, says, “This is where your money is going. We had Doug Horner run the numbers, and our secretary figured out how much each person owes on the national debt. $60,834 is a lot more than I make in a year and this is where your money is going. I think the people need to be better informed. It really doesn’t come through, when you hear about congress passing a bill to accomplish something. When you really see it and say, wow—that number next to my salary, that much next to what I bring in every week—that’s a lot.’ That’s why we’re here today, a little bit of shock value.”
As expected, the staff at the downtown post office has had some problems with the protesters. The main issue is that when protesters hand postal customers a flyer, they usually get an envelope in return. That’s mail fraud. “We’re not here to collect letters, we’re here to hand out information,” says Bartels. “That puts us kinda at odds with the post office.”
Kris Kleeberg, a nine-year post office veteran, says Tax Day isn’t so bad. “We get to do something different,” meaning he gets to collect mail outside for a change, and enjoy the spring weather. “Every year has been about the same, except for this year,” he says. He thinks it’s because the date was extended from the original April 15 deadline, and the fact that it was a Tuesday.
The Libertarians weren’t the only ones protesting at the post office. Bob Rynes, union representative for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, was spreading the word about WakeupWalmart.com. The website lists facts about Wal-mart’s tricks to avoid paying taxes and how it fails to provide company health care to its workers, thereby forcing them to seek help from government agencies, or show up in emergency rooms to get care.
Rynes says WakeupWalmart.com has 336,000 members nationwide. He adds it is the largest-growing social movement in the United States.
“The ultimate goal is to change Wal-mart into a more responsible employer,” he says. “Wal-mart has more than $11.3 billion dollars in profit last year, so they do have the means to be a more responsible employer.”
There are two main points Rynes is trying to educate consumers about Wal-mart.
“The Wal-mart tax is the estimated 2.5 billion dollars that American taxpayers pay because Wal-mart doesn’t provide affordable healthcare to its workers. That forces workers onto the public health care system.
“Wal-mart is great at taking advantage of tax loopholes,” continues Rynes. “Wal-mart owns its stores, but they pretend that they don’t. They set up fake shell companies out of state, and then they pay rent on their own store to their own fake company. They deduct the cost of the rent so they don’t have to pay corporate income taxes. This scam has allowed Wal-mart to avoid $3.39 billion dollars in state taxes between 1999 and 2005.”
Rynes says he had a lot of positive reaction while handing out flyers to last-minute filers on Tuesday. “I think the general public is starting to realize what’s going on. People are starting to get wise to what Wal-mart is doing.”
And if Wal-mart isn’t paying taxes, why should we? As one truck driver shouted out as he handed an envelope to a postal worker, “I hate taxes!”
Don’t we all.