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Why did healthcare workers decide to publicly protest Microsoft’s tax loopholes? That was the question Friday afternoon after hundreds of members of Service Employees International Union Local 775 gathered outside the company’s offices in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood.

IMG_1784On the surface, it might have seemed a little random, as some GeekWire readers noted on our original post. But over the weekend, we were able to reach a union representative, Jackson Holtz, who explained the reasoning for the protest.

“Microsoft is one of many large corporations in the state, alongside oil companies and aerospace companies, among others, that receive huge tax breaks. For Microsoft, it’s about $20 million annually,” he said. “Friday’s protest was to draw attention to these tax breaks at a time when state tax revenue is desperately needed.”

He explained, “SEIU 775 members are caregivers who provide in-home services for the state’s most vulnerable citizens — older adults and people with disabilities. Funding for these programs often are first on the chopping block when the state needs to balance its budget.”

And he concluded, “Our members believe that Microsoft should pay its fair share, and that rather than paying the executive inflated salaries and delivering return to shareholders, they should help support community programs where they do business.”

The protest follows a new round of criticism of Microsoft’s practice of routing its software licensing revenue through an office in Nevada to avoid paying millions in royalty taxes in its home state, an issue that some in the community have lobbied the company and legislators about for years.

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