By Douglas J. McCarron, General President
Carpenters are known to stand up for what’s right. That’s what carpenter Regional Councils are going to be doing in over 75 cities and towns in the U.S. and Canada during the Tax Fraud Days of Action from April 13 to 15.
We will not sit idly by while crooked contractors and labor brokers steal jobs and commit fraud—fraud that rips off workers, good employers, our provincial, state and federal governments and taxpayers. Our best estimate, based on studies done at the state level, is that in the U.S. the underground economy in the construction industry (which includes failure to properly withhold state and federal taxes and underpayment of unemployment insurance and workers compensation premiums) amounts to some $148 billion. In Canada the residential construction industry is the largest contributor to the underground economy there, accounting for just over a quarter of the total, or $13.7 billion.
This is money that could help fix our bridges, build schools, take care of our veterans and shore up the social safety net. That’s money that could create jobs and make our countries stronger for everyone. That’s money that belongs to all of us as taxpayers—and it should be used for the public good.
There is no reason for our governments to cripple their own ability to collect taxes, as has been done in the U.S. Lax rules and lack of enforcement are giving a green light to fraud, which can lead to heart-wrenching disasters. In New York City, SSC High Rise paid workers in cash and stole over $500,000 in wages from more than 50 workers. It also decided to move a scaffold while five workers were on it. One fell 29 stories to his death.
These kinds of abuses and tax fraud are well known to us. It’s time to turn over the rock, show our fellow citizens and let them know construction industry tax fraud hurts everyone.
Across North America UBC affiliates are mobilizing members and allies for Standing Up to Tax Fraud actions April 13 – 15. Local carpenters will be involved in activities from Anchorage, Alaska to Toronto, Ontario to Portland, Maine. Altogether UBC affiliates are holding over 100 events in more than 75 cities because it is time that there is more attention paid to construction industry tax fraud and the ways it is hurting legitimate contractors and our communities.