In light of reports of massive corporate tax breaks being offered to Amazon, Lucy Parsons Labs filed a Freedom of Information Request in November for the City of Chicago’s proposal for Amazon’s new headquarters. We originally submitted a Freedom of Information Act request in November of last year and only received a few pages of emails, none which contained the actual details about the proposal. The release of this proposal is in the public interest, and today, Lucy Parsons Labs filed a lawsuit against Rahm Emanuel and the City of Chicago to release it in its entirety. Lucy Parsons Labs’ Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Chicago Mayor’s Office seeks the full records of the City’s proposal to be selected as the site of Amazon’s second headquarters.
If Chicago is selected as the next Amazon headquarters, reports indicate Amazon workers would pay taxes Amazon directly instead of the state of Illinois. The report also includes a massive corporate welfare program offered to Amazon to the tune of over $1.32 billion in tax diversion. In 2018 the entire projected budget for the city of Chicago was approximately $10 billion dollars. This also comes at a time when the City of Chicago is proposing closing four high schools in Englewood, giving an additional $95 million dollars to a Chicago Police academy and has 280,000 residents on a waiting list for affordable housing.
“Rahm Emanuel and the city of Chicago have a history of secretive dealings that put Chicagoans on the hook for millions and potentially billions of dollars,” said Executive Director Freddy Martinez. “Furthermore, instead of taxing massive corporations we are seeing the chronic defunding of schools, mental health clinics, and other essential services. This corporate welfare cannot be allowed to proceed in secret and we intend to expose it.”
Lucy Parsons Labs believes such tax measures would divert funds intended to be used for vital public resources into the hands of corporate financiers and offshore tax havens. While the City will argue that the long-term economic growth of Chicago will benefit from these tax diversions, even the New York Times is not convinced:
“…companies cared most about a talented work force, which requires good schools and colleges, and amenities like affordable housing, parks and public transit that make a place desirable. Tax incentives, she said, make those investments harder for local governments to afford. Those dollars are things that could go toward educating kids, building roads, investing in quality of life for your residents”
At a time of a massively rising wealth inequality, instead of drastically taxing Jeff Bezos and the richest corporation in the world, we are seeing a drastic neoliberal shift from funding essential public services to serving monied interests.
Lucy Parsons Labs is represented by Matt Topic and Josh Burday of the Chicago law firm Loevy and Loevy. You can support our efforts by making a donation to our crowdfunding campaign. You can find a copy of the suit here.