by Bud Meyers, published April 17, 2015
When Hillary Clinton recently borrowed Elizabeth Warren’s talking points and claimed “the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top” (in our economic and political system) against regular working people, did she mention reforming the tax code — and then offer any solutions? The simple answer is “no”; and unless she is ever pressed by the mainstream “liberal” media, she will probably dodge this question the same way GE dodges taxes.
A new Pew Research study reports some 61 percent of Americans feel bothered “a lot” that “wealthy people don’t pay their fair tax share”. Besides just campaign finance reform, poll, after poll, after poll, after poll, after poll, after poll, shows most Americans also favor raising taxes on the very wealthy. So if Congress is supposed to represent the majority of the people in a democracy, why haven’t they raised taxes on the wealthy — or reformed campaign finance laws? It’s because members of Congress usually do the bidding of their biggest campaign contributors (the wealthy), those who would see their taxes increased. Not to mention, wealthy members of Congress (meaning most) would also see their own taxes increased.
As Jack Lessenberry at the Metro Times writes: “Most lawmakers don’t give a damn about what the voters need or want, and are only fixated on pleasing the superrich in order that they can get jobs from them when their terms are up.”
So is Congress primarily representing themselves? And is it because most Americans realize this, that’s why Congress’s approvals ratings have been at all-time lows? Probably. But even though Congress knows we know, most of our elected leaders still refuse to do what’s in the best interest of the American people and this nation — such as raising taxes on the rich to help pay for infrastructure. It’s so sad to witness this moral decay in our government leaders. But thankfully, there are some exceptions.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) sounds more like Elizabeth Warren than Hillary Clinton: “At a time when we have massive wealth and income inequality, and when corporate profits are soaring, it is an outrage that many large, profitable corporations not only paid nothing in federal income taxes last year, but actually received a rebate from the IRS. Instead of balancing the budget on the backs of the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor, as the Republicans in Congress have proposed, we need a tax system that demands that large, profitable corporations and the wealthy start paying their fair share in taxes.”
Sanders was commenting on a new report by Citizens for Tax Justice, which detailed how many of the biggest and best-known corporations in America pay little or no federal income taxes, and said the report underscores the need to close corporate tax loopholes. (Will we ever hear how Hillary Clinton stands on this issue, and what her proposals might be?)
As examples, Citizens for Tax Justice has found that:
- Media giant Time Warner paid nothing in federal income taxes last year when it received a rebate of $26 million from the IRS, even though it made $4.3 billion in U.S. profits.
- CBS made $1.8 billion in U.S. profits last year, but instead of paying federal income taxes, it received a rebate from the IRS of $235 million.
- Xerox made $629 million in U.S. profits in 2014, but received a tax rebate of $16 million from the IRS.
- Prudential Financial made $3.5 billion in U.S. profits last year, but instead of paying federal income taxes, it received a tax rebate of $106 million from the IRS.
- The toy maker Mattel made $268 million in profits last year, but received a tax rebate of $46 million from the IRS.
- Priceline.com not only paid nothing in federal income taxes last year, it received a tax rebate of $9 million, even though it made $73 million in profits last year.
- Pacific Gas and Electric not only paid nothing in federal income taxes last year, it received a tax rebate of $84 million from the IRS, even though it made $1.8 billion last year.
- Wireless technology maker Qualcomm made $3.2 billion in U.S. profits last year, but instead of paying federal income taxes, it received a refund from the IRS of $98 million.
- General Electric made over $5.8 billion in profits in the U.S. last year, but paid just 0.9 percent of that amount (less than 1 percent) in federal income taxes.
- Jetblue Airways made $615 million in U.S. profits last year, but paid just 0.4 percent of that amount (less than half of 1 percent) in federal income taxes.
So when we hear people like Stephen Moore at the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation claiming the U.S. has the highest corporate tax rate in the world, the actual “statutory” tax rate has little bearing on the actual “effective” tax rate corporations are actually obligated to pay, because of all the loopholes that members of Congress have allowed them on behalf of their campaign donors and corporate lobbyists. People such as Senator Bernie Sanders would like to change this “pay for play” in Washington (More on this further below in this post).
Continue reading Studies show, Congress Favors the Rich