Tax Day is not normally a day for fun, but some protesters in downtown Syracuse found a way to mix some fun with a serious message. YNN's Bill Carey says the message was a call for tax equity and a demand that major companies start paying their fair share.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The protesters say the rules of the game are simple, but major corporations aren't playing by the rules.
“We are the 99 percent,” they chanted.
Instead of playing ball on their tax bills, they claim the big companies are playing dodge ball. When it came time to play, they said picking sides was easy.
“The 99 percent versus the one percent. The 99 percent who are paying their fair share of taxes. While the one percent, some of which are not paying any taxes and, in some cases, are actually getting refunds,” said Trisha Botty of SEIU Local 20 United.
There were teachers, health care workers, community activists, retirees. All claiming it was time to level the playing field.
Autoworkers were here, out of work autoworkers who lost jobs after the Magna takeover of New Process Gear. They were ready to argue that the companies offer big tax breaks are doing little to provide the jobs they've promised to create.
“If you don't do that, then you need to be paying your taxes. You need to be paying what you said you were going to do and you're not doing,” said John O’Hara of UAW Local 624.
The game ended with an autograph session. Four balls signed by the protesters, three to be delivered to local offices of what they say are major tax dodgers.
The fourth autographed ball will not go to a corporation but, instead, to Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle, who has consistently opposed much of the legislation supported by these groups. The players say that ball carries a message.
“Those people who are not listening to us, those congress people, the representatives and the Senators who don't listen to us, we're going to get them out of office,” protester Gerald Lotierzo said.
On that point, the protesters say, they are not playing games.
Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle reacting to the Tax Day event said, "This nation's fiscal situation is anything but a game."
Buerkle says she is committed to tax reform, but again brushed aside calls for new taxes on the wealthy. Buerkle saying punishing success is, in her words, "populist rhetoric that does little to address the problems that American families face."