It was just past noon at the Apple flagship store on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. Sunlight poured through the storefront windows, the iconic Apple-shaped window on the second floor and the skylight overhead. the doors were open, allowing the noon time traffic sounds along Michigan Avenue and a strong cool breeze among the towering downtown buildings.
I’d been alerted through carefully guarded bits and pieces of information. Inside the store there was a larger than usual number of customers at the tables brimming with the latest Apple electronics, and on the second floor as well. Mixed among them were the salespeople, clad in their ubiquitous blue polo shirts. At the door, two security guards were apparently unaware of what was about to take place.
Two members of Fair Economy Illinois suddenly appeared on the stairs with a megaphone, decrying, “Apple, Apple, you you’re no good!” Instantly that voice was joined by nearly 50 protesters throughout the store: “Pay your taxes like you should!”
Toby Chow, of Fair Economy Illinois, and a guest on the Revolution and Beer show in June told shoppers, protesters and Apple employees that, “The company paid an effective tax rate of barely 7% in 2011, while the rest of us pay 15 to 20% to support services that we all need, from roads and bridges to police and fire protection. It’s outrageous that you and I pay, on average, three times as much in taxes as one of the wealthiest corporations in the nation!”
Apple’s profits between 2009 and 2012 were over $70 billion. They have paid almost no taxes in the United States or in Illinois, despite those record profits. And Apple is not alone. Fair economy Illinois, other groups and citizens are alarmed that pensions and social programs are being cut, schools are being closed and our infrastructure is crumbling at a time when too many corporations in Illinois are paying little or nothing in income taxes.
Bill 3627 would mandate corporate tax transparency in Illinois and require that corporations disclose of basic financial information, such as Apple’s Illinois taxable income, an itemized list of tax credits, and total Illinois corporate income tax paid.
There was a spirit here. There was no wavering. The protesters were organized, peaceful and respectful, initiating a dialogue quickly behind the scenes with Apple management and then with police. Still, they were unmoved until they had a chance to make their case.
From among the protesters State representative William Davis, of the 13th district also addressed the issue, showing his full support for the protest as well as the effort to have corporations pay a fair portion of the tax burden the average citizen and small business must bear.
“Apple is not the only corporate tax dodger,” he said to applause, “but two-thirds of corporations in the state of Illinois pay nothing in Illinois corporate income tax, and every year the state loses roughly two billion dollars in tax revenue because of state corporate tax loopholes. And because of federal tax loopholes like the ones that Apple uses, Illinois loses an additional two billion dollars each year in federal revenue that is passed to the states. Four billion dollars a year would do a lot to help build communities with good schools and good jobs, with help and security for the most vulnerable in our society. But in Illinois, we have been doing the opposite — we have cut funding for education, healthcare and human services, and yet we continue to give huge tax breaks to profitable corporations.”
Police arrived as the protest was winding down. Apple security initially called police and stated there was a “mob action with criminal damage to property,” said one unnamed officer. Fewer than a dozen officers responded and were clearly annoyed at the false alarm raised by Apple security. There was no damage to property and no arrests, though business at the Apple store was briefly interrupted.
still chanting the protesters peacefully exited the store where they cheered on the sidewalk outside. Lining the walk way they continued for passersby, handing out flyers or talking to the curious individually. This is the sustained sort of pressure, both in protests and peaceful actions, as well as political pressure and citizen lobbying of a sort Fair Economy Illinois has undertaken. Revolution and Beer will be addressing the polar opposite of that in Washington DC this July 4th.
Catch WC Turck and Brian Murray only at RevolutionandBeer.com. Watch us every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., and Wednesdays at 2:30 p.m., on Chicago Cable Channel 19. Please don’t forget to Like us on Facebook.
ACTIVISTS AND COMMUNITY ORGANIZERS: If you have a cause to champion, please let us know. We proudly stand with you in the important work of strengthening the grassroots support network for the city of Chicago.
BEER! Catch the Beer of The Week review with 900poundgorilla, along with weekly food pairings for our featured beers by Chef AJ Francisco and Simply Healthy Gourmet author Carole Cooper here. Find all of the great beers we review each week at www.glunzbeers.com.