USA Today and the Associated Press fall for a prank article by activist group US Uncut, causing General Electric stock to plummet billions.
US Uncut, a burgeoning grassroots movement pressuring corporate tax cheats to pay their fair share, posted today a fake GE press release announcing that they would return their illegitimate (but legal) $3.2 billion tax refund, and that they would lobby to close the sort of corporate tax loopholes that had allowed them to skip taxes in the first place. Several major media outlets, including USA Today, ran the story as true. (Here is a link to the original USA Today story; here is the first article debunking the release.)
US Uncut quickly reacted with another release pretending to praise GE for this entirely unpredictable, unlikely, and in fact impossible act.
"This action showed us how the world could work," said US Uncut spokesperson Carl Gibson. "For a brief moment people believed that the biggest corporate tax dodger had a change of heart and actually did the right thing. But the only way anything like this is really going to happen is if we change the laws that allow corporate tax avoidance in the first place."
In the period the hoax was believed, GE's stock plunged by .6% (far more than the value of the supposed return), then quickly recovered as soon as it became apparent the press had been duped. "Obviously, GE can't possibly be expected to do the right thing voluntarily; their stock would keep plunging," noted Gibson. "That's why we must change the law."
"GE's tax avoidance is unpatriotic, it's undemocratic, it's unfair," said Andrew Boyd, a US Uncut spokesperson. "It might be legal, but that's only because GE has used its money and lobbying influence to buy the loopholes they're now taking advantage of."
US Uncut developed the project with help from the Yes Lab (http://www.yeslab.org/).
US Uncut, a grassroots movement organized through social media, connects corporate tax cheating to cuts in valuable public services. The group has lead over 100 actions nationwide against corporations who do not pay their fair share in taxes, bringing protests directly to the front door of corporate retail stores. US Uncut will hold more than 80 such events over the course of the upcoming Tax Day weekend.
"Billionaire corporations profit from the system of public services set-up by the government. It only makes sense for them to pay their fair share, just like everyone else," said Gibson. "No corporation is an island, even if they hide all their profits in tropical tax havens."
"While we all pay our taxes this weekend, Congress just passed the largest spending cuts in US history, much of it to social programs and investments for our country's future," said US Uncut DC organizer George Taghi, "Instead of slashing public services like Head Start and Pell Grants, why not go after corporations who don't bother to pay any taxes at all?"
Composed of self-organized citizens through social media, including Facebook and Twitter, the magnetic message of US Uncut has spread like populist wildfire. Anger is rising as Americans are being forced to endure brutal cuts at both the federal and state-level, for a budget crisis they did not cause. Over $100 billion estimated annually could be gained, if corporations ended practices of tax avoidance.
"Billionaire corporations have already abandoned America for foreign tax havens," said US Uncut spokesperson Ryan Clayton, "They pay zero income taxes here, hold their profits in international banks, and ship millions of American jobs overseas. That is un-American."
For more information, please visit http://USuncut.org
For time & locations of all the upcoming actions: http://USuncut.org/actions