He was treated for cancer, heart disease and two hernias last year but wasn’t able to deduct his expenses, he said. Amazon, meantime, availed itself of a full suite of tax breaks. “Amazon doesn’t pay taxes, but I pay taxes,” Mr. Williams said.
Akron, about an hour west, is faring better economically. Mayor Daniel Horrigan won’t confirm or deny it, but Amazon is believed to be the company he has recruited to move into Akron’s Rolling Acres Mall, a once-thriving shopping center that closed in 2008, becoming a symbol of both the recession and the retail disruption caused by online shopping.
Amazon would not comment on whether it planned to open a facility there.
Mr. Horrigan has been working to invigorate the economy of Akron, historically known as the Rubber City for its role in tire manufacturing. The tire jobs have mostly moved elsewhere.
Goodyear, which made the list of 60 by paying no federal corporate income taxes, employs 64,000 people worldwide, but only 3,000 of them remain here, mostly in the company’s headquarters. A spokesman said the company’s 2018 tax situation stemmed from “historical losses in U.S. operations.”
The Democratic Socialists have close to 100 members in Akron, many of them supporters of Mr. Sanders. Those attending last week’s meeting ranged from a stay-at-home mother who said she hadn’t been able to pay her water bill for a year to a college professor, David Pereplyotchik.
Mr. Pereplyotchik, 37, said he believed the group should come up with a viable alternative to the corporate tax and wage system in the United States.
“If we’re fighting for something, what version of the thing are we fighting for?” asked Mr. Pereplyotchik, who teaches philosophy. “It seems like if you just make them pay employees more, they’re just not going to hire employees.”
Mr. Robertson, the carpet cleaner, has his own idea: nationalizing the companies. “I think forcing them to pay higher alone is inefficient,” he said, “and taxation alone is inefficient.”