THE BEST TEAM THAT CORPORATE MONEY CAN BUY
The Tax Dodgers are a fictional baseball team featuring an all-star lineup of wealthy corporations, each of whom have used loopholes and lobbying to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. Players including General Electric, Bank of America, Verizon, Exxon Mobile, ConEdison, Wells Fargo and more. The team is accompanied by their own hula-hooping cheerleading squad. The Corporate Loopholes. The team’s uniforms feature lettering evoking the classic Brooklyn dodgers, circa 1957. All players share the same number, 1%.
While the project is clearly humorous, the issue they raise is no joke. Tax Policy groups have estimated that corporate tax dodging costs the country a whopping $100 Billion a year, at a time when the nation is being forced to consider budget cuts to basic services like health care, housing, education and social security.
Wells Fargo commended his teams success: “We’ve consistently knocked it out of the park. And the roads, schools and hospitals.”
While the average tax rate for Americans is around 35%, some of the wealthiest corporations have found ways to avoid paying altogether. For example, General Electric paid zero taxes in 2010, and then still received over $3 Billion in refunds and rebates. This equalled a negative 45% tax rate.
Another player, Google, offered his appreciation to fans: “None of this would be possible without the support of patriotic, hardworking Americans. We would like to thank all of you for paying taxes to keep this country going so that we don’t have to.”
TAX DAY IS PAY DAY
The team first appeared as part of a protest of Verizon workers in front the company’s headquarters in New York City. A week later they tried to perform inside 30 Rockefeller Plaza, GE headquarters “to help celebrate their record-breaking achievements” but were promptly removed by security. Since then, the team has made several unannounced appearances.
On Tax Day, April 17, 2012 the Tax Dodgers attempted to enter Trump Tower, where Donald Trump was throwing a special event: a birthday party for Anne Romney and a fundraiser for her husband and presidential candidate, Mitt Romney. To honor the occasion, the team brought along their team mascot, a giant 7-foot-tall dancing baseball glove named ‘MITT’. The wealthy invited guests initially thought the team was hired entertainment until the police made them leave. However, the team continued their appearance in fromt of the entrance, forcing each of Mrs. Romney’s well attired guests to confront the team as they exited.
The team serenaded the finely attired guests with a rendition of “Take Me Out To The Tax Game” as the team’s cheerleaders, the Corporate Loopholes, offered a choreographed chant: “Bermuda! The Caymans! Those are the best tax havens! Bahamas! Aruba! Too bad we can’t use Cuba!”
Later that same day, the team lead a march of 2,000 union members, which ended near the Post Office as people dashed in to file their taxes at the last minute. “We understand that for many people, Tax Day is not always happy day, since you have to make some sacrifice for the common good. But for us, Tax Day is pay day!”
The team then distributed envelopes to the crowd with 'real money’ that contained an amount more than what GE, Verizon and Bank of America paid in taxes combined.
Inside was a single penny.
On Sunday, July 22, 2012 - The team appeared at the entrace to CitiField (Mets Stadium) as the Mets played the LA Dodgers. As the crowds assembled in front of the main entrance to the stadium, the Tax Dodgers presented an award to their star player, CitiBank, for it’s success in “stealing homes.” Citibank, a major recipient of over $45 BIllion federal bailouts, was recently fined $189 million for committing massive mortgage fraud.
“We proudly present Citibank with the award for MVP, for helping make the economy DOA.” Said Goldman Sachs, Team Captain. CitiBank then received a golden trophy in the shape of a homeplate, with the word 'foreclosed’ attached it.
Afterwards, the 1% team went to a community event, Occupy Town Square in Jackson heights, and challenged local residents to play against them in a live baseball game, where a “99%” team was picked directly from the crowd. Once the corporate team fell behind 5-2 however, a 'campaign donation’ to the umpire, and all future calls went in their favor. Outraged, the 99% players as well as many spectators on the sidelines stormed the infield, locking their arms together and 'occupying’ home plate, preventing the Tax Dodgers from cheating any further.
One 99% player elicited cheers from the crowd when he yelled: 'Corporate Tax Dodgers, we refuse to play your game any longer. We are calling you OUT!“
HALL OF FAMERS
The National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown requested a uniform and notified the team it will be put on exhibit in the "Today's Game" exhibit, up for the next year. The Hall of Fame has over 300,000 visitors per year.
BEHIND THE SCENES
Why did we create a fake baseball team? Americans don't like talking about tax policy. But they do love talking about sports. If sports teams cheated as much as corporations, the grotesque unfairness would cause a revolt. However, such unacceptable behavior on the field can goes by unnoticed when they are done to us in real life.
The goal of the project was to create a simple, accessible way to talk about a complex and intractable issue - Tax Fairness - making a conversation usually of interest only to policy makers and accountants something anyone can understand.
Pharrel William's youtube channel Voice of Art produced a 4-part documentary about the team.
EPISODE 1: FROM SUPERHEROES TO SPORTS
Gan Golan, street theater artist and co-author of best-sellers "Goodnight Bush" and "The Adventures of Unemployed Man," leads a mock baseball team called "The Tax Dodgers." Golan's guerrilla art tactics developed through his student-activist years at MIT, battling the World Trade Organization in Cancun, Mexico, and eventually taking on powerful corporations alongside Occupy Wall Street.
EPISODE 2: SPRING TRAINING
Wall Street's least favorite baseball team "The Tax Dodgers" prepare their performance tactics for a big upcoming game. Citizens for Tax Justice illustrate the problem of corporate tax dodging, a former police captain fights against "corporate sociopaths," and The Yes Men and Common Cause detail the corporate hijacking of the US political system through devious means.
EPISODE 3: LET'S PLAY BALL!
In the third episode, the Tax Dodgers play their very first game in Philadelphia on Independence Day, against a team of everyday people recruited directly from the crowd, The 99%ers. Posing as major corporations like GE, Verizon and Bank of America, the Tax Dodgers rig the game to reveal what the US Economy has become… until their bribery, rule changing and flat-out cheating get them arrested by Ray Lewis, former Philadelphia Police Captain. The Yes Men’s Andy Bichlbaum tells how creative activism can break under-reported stories through the mainstream media blockade.
EPISODE 3: HALL OF FAME
To the mutual astonishment of both sports fans and political activists, The Tax Dodgers were put on display at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, in the same hall where real teams like the New York Yankees and LA Dodgers are on view.
Many people and organizations helped make the Tax Dodgers a reality, including the Occupy Wall St. Puppetry Guild and United NY.