Editorial: Corporations dodging taxes while others pay

Talking about cutting taxes on the wealthiest few, General Electric, one of the nation’s largest corporation, made headlines by reaping near-record profits — and paying no corporate income taxes. None. Zip. In fact, on worldwide profits of $14.2 billion, of which $5.1 billion was earned in the U.S., they claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion.
So while you’re finishing up your tax returns before the April 15 deadline, chew on that for a while.
But General Electric is not alone. Companies throughout the nation have been working overtime to figure out ways — and spending billions of dollars lobbying legislators friendly to big business to pass favorable tax loopholes in the laws that benefit bankers, Wall Street traders, and huge multi-national corporations. And they have been successful. Even though the United States has a top corporate tax rate of 35 percent, most pay far, far less; so much less that it is one of the reasons for the nation’s ballooning deficit. In the mid-1950s, for example, corporate income taxes accounted for 30 percent of all federal revenue. In 2009, after implementation of President George W. Bush’s two tax cuts (that primarily benefited the wealthy and big corporations), the corporate share of the nation’s tax receipts was just 6.6 percent — which means, by the way, that the rest (the other 93.4 percent) of the tax burden is being paid by individuals.
Feel better knowing that Republicans in Congress are still calling for more cuts for big business, so you can pay an even greater share of the burden?
But just what do they do with all those savings? Create more jobs? That’s true, if you’re a lobbyist. G.E. spent $39,290,000 in 2010 alone lobbying Congress for favorable loopholes, the most of any of the top 10 corporations in the country by far. Others in the top ten were: ExxonMobil ($12,450,000); Bank of America ($3,980,000); Chevron ($12,890,000); Boeing ($17,896,000); Goldman Sachs ($4,610,000); Citigroup ($5,840,000); and ConocoPhillips ($19,626,382). The top 10 corporations in the country spent a total of $117,346,382 lobbying in just 2010.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is, naturally, outraged and leading the charge to close the loopholes and resort some sanity to the nation’s tax laws.
“The wealthiest people and the largest corporations in the country have got to contribute,” he said last week. “We’ve got to talk about shared sacrifice. We have a deficit problem. It has to be addressed, but it cannot be addressed on the backs of the sick, the elderly, the poor, young people, the most vulnerable in this country.” Such rhetoric used to sound like the ranting of a bona-fide Socialist.
In light of today’s facts, it just makes a lot of common sense.

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