By Cathryn Wellner
” Politicians and critics who wonder why the Occupy movement hasn’t disappeared with cooler weather should read a study just released by Citizens for Tax Justice. “Corporate Taxpayers & Corporate Tax Dodgers, 2008-2010” makes uncomfortable but important reading.
The study looks at 280 of America’s largest companies, all of them on the Fortune 500 list. These are high-profit corporations so it would be reasonable to expect them to be fair contributors to the system that allows them to operate. After all, they benefit from roads, schools, hospitals, parks and other amenities and services tax dollars provide.
As it turns out, between 2008 and 2010, 78 of them avoided paying any taxes at all. That is only one way these corporations raided the futures of millions of their fellow Americans. Robert McIntyre, Director at Citizens for Tax Justice and lead author on the report, says, “These 280 corporations received a total of nearly $223 billion in tax subsidies. This is wasted money that could have gone to protect Medicare, create jobs and cut the deficit.”
Some of the highlights, or low points, of the report:
- 38 corporations had negative tax rates all three years. Pepco Holdings topped the list, at -57.6%, with General Electric second at -45.3%.
- In 2009 49 companies paid zero or less federal taxes
- In 2008, 22 of the 280 companies did not pay one dollar in federal taxes, but they received $3.3 billion in tax rebates. In 2010, those numbers jumped to 37 companies that paid no taxes but received $7.8 billion in rebates.
The list of tax avoiders and subsidy recipients includes a lot of familiar names, such as Boeing, Yahoo, Yum Brands, Marathon Oil, FedEx, Hewlett Packard, American Express, and Time Warner. Corporations point out they are doing nothing illegal paring their taxes to nothing and receiving rebates. They are merely abiding by tax laws. However, as the report points out, “The laws were not enacted in a vacuum; they were adopted in response to relentless corporate lobbying, threats and campaign support.”
Tax reform is desperately needed in a country where the growing gap between rich and poor is leaving the country at risk for social instability and continuing economic chaos. However, “GOP candidates for president are all promoting huge cuts in the corporate tax or, in several cases, even elimination of the corporate income tax entirely.”
The whole report is worth reading, especially as campaign rhetoric heats to the melting point in advance of the 2012 elections. Should elected politicians be held accountable for this untenable situation? Can voters make them change the system? What do you think?
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