Community and labor leaders gathered in Iowa City Thursday to protest what they’re calling “corporate tax dodgers” – including one of Iowa’s largest employers. Members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 199 are calling on officials with Iowa-based Wells Fargo to release the company’s tax returns for the last 10 years.

David Goodner, with Iowa CCI, says loopholes in the corporate tax code allow big corporations on Wall Street to hide their profits.

“Here in the state of Iowa, (corporations) can actually deduct their federal taxes as a liability on their state taxes. You know, I can’t do that…and CCI and SEIU members have to pay their federal taxes and their state taxes,” Goodner said.

“We think big corporations like Wells Fargo need to pay those taxes too.” The federal corporate tax rate is 35%, but Goodner says Wells Fargo only paid 7.5% on $19 billion in profits in 2010. He says the federal and state budget problems are not a result of a spending problem, but rather a revenue problem. Goodner believes money to fix the economy is available.

“But, it’s not in the back pockets of a Head Start teacher or the lunchbox of a preschool kid or the Social Security or Medicare account of a senior,” Goodner said. “That money is on Wall Street and when those corporations start paying their fair share, we can get this country back on track.”

SEIU member Sara Collman, a 35-year-old old Head Start teacher in Cedar Rapids, spoke at a press conference organized by the union and Iowa CCI. “I believe if Wall Street, big banks and corporations would pay their fair share in taxes, the program I work for would not be in jeopardy of losing our state and federal funding,” Collman said.

A spokesperson for Wells Fargo issued a statement to Radio Iowa saying the company has “fulfilled its obligations to federal state and local communities” where it serves customers. The statement says the company, along with Wachovia – which Wells Fargo acquired in 2008 – has paid more than $30 billion in income taxes to federal and state authorities over the last 10 years.

 “In addition, Wells Fargo has paid billions over this same timeframe in other taxes, including real estate, property and payroll taxes,” the statement concludes.