Big Corporations and Federal Taxes

Submitted by Lawrence Rafferty, (rafflaw), Guest Blogger

With the constant news reports highlighting the economic woes of the State and Federal governments and the important battle in Wisconsin and other states over the claim that workers need to sacrifice a little more to help out their state governments, it is interesting to learn just how much big corporations pay in Federal Taxes. Would it surprise you if I told you that many of our largest corporations pay zero Federal taxes?

I don’t know about you, but it did surprise me to learn that Bank of America, General Electric, Boeing, Citigroup and Exxon-Mobil pay no Federal taxes. “Indeed, as politicians are asking ordinary Americans to sacrifice their education, their health, their labor rights, and their wellbeing to tackle budget deficits, some of the world’s richest multinational corporations are getting away with shirking their responsibility and paying nothing.” Think Progress   We are not talking about corporations who have had big losses to deal with, but huge profitable companies who are making Billions off of the American public and paying zero taxes to Uncle Sam.

One company on Think Progress’ list is Boeing. Some years ago Boeing moved its headquarters to Chicago and received millions in tax breaks from the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago as an inducement to move to Chicago. I bring up Boeing because it is based out of nearby Chicago and because it is a big military contractor. That means it gets billions in business from the U.S. Military. In fact, Boeing just received a $35 Billion dollar contract to build tankers for the United States Air Force over the next several years. “Despite receiving billions of dollars from the federal government every single year in taxpayer subsidies from the U.S. government, Boeing didn’t “pay a dime of U.S. federal corporate income taxes” between 2008 and 2010.”  Boeing 

Boeing is not alone on the list of these big corporations that does business with the United States Military, but pays little or no Federal tax on its profits. General Electric is another prime example of a company making billions off of the United States, while paying zip in federal taxes. “In 2009, General Electric — the world’s largest corporation — filed more than 7,000 tax returns and still paid nothing to U.S. government. They managed to do this by a tax code that essentially subsidizes companies for losing profits and allows them to set up tax havens overseas.” Think Progress

Why is it that the American public buys products from and supports these huge corporations and yet these corporations don’t have to pay taxes on their profits? The answer is really pretty simple. Who do you think writes or influences Congress to write the tax laws that allow these companies to steal from the American public? Corporate Lobbyists pull the strings and Congress jumps. Tax Analysts   The ability of these big corporations to get away with paying little or no Federal taxes puts a huge burden on the average American taxpayer and corporations that do not take advantage of the loopholes. “According to a report from the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, a $100 billion annual tax burden is shifted to US-based individuals and companies thanks to corporations stowing their profits offshore: Over ten years, an estimated $1 trillion in revenues is lost due to the use of tax havens and the government must make up for this shortfall. This diversion ends up being shouldered by other companies and taxpayers and is transferred as higher debt for future generations.” Wonkroom

The next time your read or hear about the sacrifices that the middle class must make in order to shore up the government’s finances due to an economic disaster that was mainly caused by Wall Street, ask how much extra General Electric or Boeing or Bank of America are going to put into the tax pot to help balance the budget. Maybe Citigroup or Exxon-Mobil or Wells Fargo will be sacrificing in order to restore financial sanity to the Federal budget. If you believe that, then I guess pigs really do fly. Wouldn’t that $1 Trillion dollars of lost tax revenue come in handy right about now?

Submitted by Lawrence Rafferty, (rafflaw), Guest Blogger

111 thoughts on “Big Corporations and Federal Taxes”

  1. “Raising taxes will only increase the speed of jobs leaving the United States for better educated, lower-tax venues.” ~Roam
    liar liar pants on fire…although I do agree to the extant that raising taxes on Corps isn’t as necessary as enforcing current taxes…and closing thier sorry ass loopholes which are nothing but nooses to the peoples of WHATEVER country they are sucking dry…

  2. Stamford,
    I think it was blowing smoke. Franks was backed into a corner by the questions. Hopefully I am wrong, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he is already backing away from his comments. Great link to the Nation article, by the way!
    great link to the research showing 85% of Americans think Corporations have too much influence. The other 15% are Fox News viewers.

  3. I’m not sure how to take this … blowing smoke or being “honest”??

    GOP Congressman Offers Praise For US-UnCut Effort: CitiGroup’s Corporate Tax Dodging ‘Broke The Law’
    ThinkProgress filed this report from the Tea Party Patriots Policy Summit in Phoenix, AZ.

    Over the weekend, Americans all over the country staged demonstrations demanding that corporations pay their fair share in taxes. As ThinkProgress’ Zaid Jilani reported, many of America’s largest and most profitable corporations, like ExxonMobil, CitiGroup Bank of America, have managed to avoid paying any corporate taxes for most quarters in recent years. As corporations pay out record bonuses and compile billions in untaxed profits, corrupt politicians are trying to force regular Americans to give up benefits and social programs to pay down the deficit.

    At the summit, ThinkProgress approached two conservative Republicans, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), to talk about corporate tax dodgers as well as the burgeoning “Main Street Movement“/US-UnCut efforts (US-UnCut is modeled after the UK group demanding British tax dodging corporations pay their fair share). Asked how he feels about large corporations skipping tax payments, Franks was at first incredulous, telling us that they do pay taxes but simply “pass it along” to consumers. Reminded that firms like Bank of America and CitiGroup have earned profits and avoided paying taxes, Franks finally responded sternly: “Well, then they broke the law”:

    FANG: A lot of liberals are hosting what CBS News has called you know a left-wing alternative to the Tea Party this weekend, demonstrations all over the country. And one of their key complaints is that corporations aren’t paying their fair share. And they give examples like, in 2009, ExxonMobil, Bank of America, CitiGroup, GE, none of these corporations paid a dime in corporate income taxes. Do you think it’s fair for these corporations not to pay income taxes? […] But they’re using offshore bank accounts as loopholes–

    FRANKS: Those things can be addressed. But the bottom line is, corporate income taxes, they’re taxes on the people, ultimately.

    FANG: But they’re not paying any of these taxes.

    FRANKS: But what I’m saying is to raise corporate taxes or increase corporate taxes, won’t hurt the corporations, they’ll just pass it along. […]

    FANG: CitiGroup had one of its most profitable years ever in the last two years and they didn’t–

    FRANKS: And you’re saying they didn’t pay any taxes on the profit?

    FANG: Yes, in 2009. We don’t know about 2010.

    FRANKS: Well, then they broke the law

  4. Moar,

    This is a question I have of you. Why do we have consumer tag on bed products and vehicle? Just asking…..

  5. US Uncut Hits the Streets

    Allison Kilkenny
    February 26, 2011

    Today, in fifty cities across the country, US Uncut debuted as a serious, mobilized effort to fight corporate tax dodging. February 26 was the group’s big national Day Of Action—the first coordinated effort by the organization and its regional captains to educate the public and drum up support for the movement.
    At the rally in New York City, around ninety people ultimately showed up, which as one attendee pointed out, was about double the size of a Bahrain protest he’d attended earlier in the week in the city. The protesters handed out flyers and shouted to pedestrians: “Do you pay your taxes? Bank of America doesn’t!”

    That was the simple message the group hoped to convey to the public, according to Alisa Harris, one of US Uncut’s New York organizers.

    “Bank of America is a corporation that got a $45 billion bailout from US taxpayers, and yet they paid absolutely no income tax [in 2009],” she said, “And so this is just a great example of the problem of taxpayers pouring resources into these corporations, and the corporations are using our infrastructure, and yet they’re not giving back to the community.”

    As I conducted interviews, I repeatedly heard protesters refer to America’s two-tier economy in which workers are expected to shoulder the burden of deficit while corporations continuously skirt liability.

    Additionally, the protests in Wisconsin were fresh on everyone’s mind. I asked numerous people what they thought of the way in which the media and government have framed the deficit narrative: workers must sacrifice benefits and pensions, while the wealthy and corporations enjoy tax cuts.

    Tom Adcock sees Bank of America’s tax dodging as a symptom of a much larger rot. “Not everyone caused this recession,” he said, “Banks and Wall Street caused it.”

    All week, dramatic photos and video have been rolling in from Madison, showing workers engaged in a desperate struggle to cling onto their basic rights to organize, and the protesters at US Uncut drew parallels between their own struggles and those of the activists in Wisconsin. Again and again I heard protesters wondering aloud why Republicans were calling for austerity measures when a wealth of revenue lays just off the US coast.

    “$100 billion [annually] is lost by corporations who are putting their money into offshore tax havens,” Harris told me, “and the House Republicans have proposed $60 billion in cuts, and so if we just collected that $100 billion, maybe we wouldn’t have to have that $60 billion in cuts.”

    Others, like Scott Dumont, 20, who was at his first protest, offered a simpler message. I asked what about Bank of America motivated him to hit the streets. “It’s only fair. Corporations should have to pay taxes, too.”

    Standing in front of Bank of America, an SEIU member led the crowd in a chant: “Don’t cut teachers, don’t cut cops, collect the taxes from the top!” The message is particularly timely in New York City, where Mayor Bloomberg recently announced his own version of austerity cuts in plans to lay off nearly 4,600 teachers.

    There definitely wasn’t a lot of love at the US Uncut protest for President Obama, who enjoyed support during his presidential campaign by using populist rhetoric against massive corporations like Bank of America.

    During the 2008 debates, Obama made tax havens a prominent target for some of his better snark. “There’s a building in the Cayman Islands that houses supposedly 12,000 US-based corporations. That’s either the biggest building in the world or the biggest tax scam in the world, and we know which one it is.” This part of his speech was generally one of Obama’s biggest applause lines.

    But as of his election, Obama has done little to address the problem of corporate tax theft. However, he is continuing to talk about the problem.

    “He’s talking about it again,” said Harris. “He’s suggesting that we close some of those offshore tax havens, and I certainly hope that it actually happens, and maybe if people can actually mobilize around this cause and show public support for it, then hopefully something will actually happen—momentum will build.”

  6. eniobob,

    Someone actually takes the time to fire someone as to fire someone in NJ…. The times they are a changing…..

  7. A new tatic:

    “”What’s the message to the people of the agency, when your key guardian of how an agency is supposed to run is unceremoniously dumped?” he said. “It’s very disheartening.”

    Ex-counsel for N.J. public employee relations group says he was fired for being an ‘obstacle’ to Christie’s plans
    Published: Tuesday, March 01, 2011, 6:00 AM Updated: Tuesday, March 01, 2011, 7:53 AM
    Ginger Gibson/Statehouse Bureau By Ginger Gibson/Statehouse Bureau

    Don’t like the message,fire the messenger.

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