Members of unions and political action groups called for support for the Buffett Rule in a protest outside the now closed Iowa Workforce Development Center on Kellogg Avenue Tuesday.
Today was the last day to file federal income tax returns, but not everyone will be paying including some millionaires, speakers said.
“This year, like every year, working people will be paying their fair share of taxes and we don't mind doing it,” said Matt Sinovic, 30, Progress Iowa's executive director.
He said some wealthier members of society may pay nothing and he was there to call attention to the people who were helping them do that. He said almost 1,500 millionaires paid no income taxes in 2009 and thousands more pay taxes at a lower rate than the working class.
That's because the most wealthy derive income from investments so they avoid payroll taxes and capital gains taxes are capped at 15 percent for most brackets.
The Buffett Rule proposed by President Barack Obama would ensure that people with incomes of $1 million or more would pay taxes at a rate of at least 30 percent.
Warren Buffet wrote in a New York Times Op-Ed on Aug. 14, 2011, that he paid just below $7 million in taxes in 2010. It was just 17.4 percent of his taxable income while others in his Berkshire Hathaway office paid 33 to 41 percent.
Taxes are higher on middle income wage earners because they pay taxes at a 15 and 25 percent tax bracket and payroll taxes as well, he wrote. He suggested an increased tax rate for those earning more than $1 million.
The U.S. Senate rejected the Buffett proposal Monday. Critics, like A.J. Spiker, the chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, said it would do nothing to create jobs.
Ames protesters also called on corporations to pay more in taxes than the working class.
Iowa State University College Democrats and student Abhishek Vemuri said that many corporations like Boeing paid no net income taxes.
Gabriel DeLaCerda, a steelworker from Des Moines, said Iowa Congressman Steve King voted in favor of corporate loopholes and against a measure that would have ended billions in subsidies for the oil industry. Sinovic said King has also voted in favor of Ryan Budget bills that cut social programs and continue tax breaks for the wealthy, critics said.
Vemuri said King is sacrificing the middle class so that the Warren Buffetts of the world can have a lower tax rate than their secretaries. Vemuri said correcting that isn't punishing success, but it levels the playing field.
“Which America do we want? A nation where millionaires pay lower tax rates than the rest of us or one where everyone pays their fair share,” Vemuri said.
Protesters held the rally outside the workforce development office because it served as a symbol DeLaCerda said. The Ames office closed in October due to a veto by Gov. Terry Branstad. That action has been declared unconstitutional, but the office has yet to reopen. It was one of 36 offices that closed.
“Today let that empty building be a symbol of a tax system that is broken. Let it go forth as a symbol of the policies of Gov. Branstad who chose to close it down when unemployment in Ames and Iowa reached its highest levels in a generation,” DeLaCerda said. “This building is a symbol of Congressman Steve King's anti-middle class pro-millionaire votes in DC.”
Protester Daniel Noonan, 27, who used to work in the office, called for its reopening as did speaker Kasey Friedrichsen. Noonan now works for the Promise Jobs program out of a Des Moines office. Friedrichsen was among those laid off from the Iowa Workforce Development office in Denison. She decided to run for an Iowa House seat in district 18.
King's campaign issued a response to the rally in a statement on Monday. It said that job creation was not a partisan issue and that he wanted to close tax loopholes and simplify the tax code.
"As a self-made small business owner, Congressman King knows first hand
how the tax climate affects our country's job creators. Job creation is not a partisan issue. It's about getting the tax and regulatory burden out of the way of the entrepreneurs who put Iowans to work," the statement said.
SEE MORE ON PATCH