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Small but vocal group protests taxes

“Thank you for paying your taxes” is a seldom-heard phrase, but it was the calling card Sunday for a few citizens angry about federal loopholes for corporations.

They had a serious point to make with humor. With some dressing the part, they pretended to be high-class moguls walking Michigan Avenue and thanking people “for paying your fair share of U.S. taxes, so we don’t have to.”

They carried placards expressing the gratitude of ExxonMobil, Boeing, Bank of America and other corporations. All were identified in a report last month by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, that highlighted U.S.-based companies paying little or no income taxes in 2009.

“Most people don’t know how little these corporations pay in taxes,” said Eric Pynnonen, a security and risk manager from Chicago who was part of the small group of about 20 people.

They included members of the Coffee Party, which is positioning itself as a nonpartisan alternative to the Tea Party, and U.S. Uncut. Last week, U.S. Uncut took credit for a hoax press release saying that General Electric was returning to the treasury its $3.2 billion tax refund.

Participants said they hope to convince others that wiping out corporate loopholes will save critical programs facing the budget ax. “The corporate tax situation in Europe is so much simpler,” said Jim Netter, a music producer from Chicago. “Nominal rates are much lower, but corporations actually have to pay them.”

The group marched along Michigan Avenue from the Water Tower to Millennium Park, stopping at Pioneer Court, where many groups are known to promote a cause.

Perhaps undermining their message was a caravan of buses that drove up the avenue. They were from a religious group and bore signs advertising the end of the world starting May 21.

If that’s the case, why is anybody paying taxes?

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