April 24, 2012  Posted by admin at 7:54 pm News 

Tue Apr 24, 2012 3:21pm EDT

(Reuters) – An offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which rose to prominence last year with its anticorporate stance, plans to bring its populist message to General Electric Co’s shareholder meeting in Detroit on Wednesday.

Members of the “99 Percent” movement plan to picket the largest U.S. conglomerate’s meeting to protest its low tax rate. The loosely organized coalition, whose name is a contrast to the top 1 percent of wealthy Americans, expects to have more than 2,000 protesters in attendance, according to organizers.

“It’s the 99 percent and we want to serve notice to the 1 percent that it’s time to start paying your fair share in taxes and being a little more responsible,” said Christian Gary, an organizer with Good Jobs Now in Detroit.

The complaints were a reference to GE’s low 2010 and 2009 tax rates, which the company says were a result of heavy losses at its GE Capital arm during the financial crisis. A 2011 report by left-leaning think tank Citizens for Tax Justice claimed GE had an effective negative tax rate from 2008 through 2010, which the company has denied.

The 120-year-old company, whose wide swath of operations ranges from manufacturing refrigerators to helping finance power plant projects in the Middle East, last year recorded $14.15 billion in net earnings, a 22 percent increase from 2010. It is one of about a dozen companies whose annual meetings the 99 Percent movement is targeting this year – demonstrators are also expected at the Wells Fargo Co meeting later on Tuesday in San Francisco.

Protesters interrupted a speech by GE Chief Executive Jeff Immelt in Detroit on Tuesday, yelling “pay your fair share,” before being escorted out of the event, a meeting of automotive engineers.

“Enough is enough,” said Shyquetta McElroy, who traveled from Milwaukee to join the protests. “I made the trip to Detroit because Wisconsin is suffering from a debt epidemic right now and I believe that should not be true when we have big corporations like GE who have only paid 11 percent in taxes.”

A Citizens for Tax Justice report released in February said GE had an effective tax rate of 11 percent in 2011, a number the company says is incorrect.

“I don’t know what to do about

Article source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/24/us-ge-meeting-idUSBRE83N10S20120424

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