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Showing posts with label Corporate taxes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Corporate taxes. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Monday, December 05, 2011

A Matter of Personal Preference

Some of my high school friends and I used to have the classic "Beatles v. Stones" debate. Some were Beatles fans and some were Stones fans. Often the debates became quiet heated as each side was passionate that they were right and the other was wrong.

Obviously, there was no right and wrong because it was simply a matter of personal preference. To me, this is exactly what is going with President Obama. For most folks, it's a matter of personal preference and they really don't spend the amount of time someone like me does in researching the various issues.

This is particularly true of the people that don't like the president. In general, there's nothing rational about it. He could fix everything wrong in the world while personally saving their families from drowning and these folks would still not admit that he has been a good president. There are several reasons for this. First, he won and they just can't accept that. Second, he's doing a better job than George W. Bush, the man they pinned all their hopes and dreams on only to watch him fail in several key areas (nearly ruining our country), and they just can't accept that. Third, he's black (side note: don't even try to wriggle out of it, reverse race card players, and do your little schitck) and they just can't accept that.

So, one can indeed look at these reasons and see that they are purely emotional. So why don't they just admit it? Is it so hard for them to say, "I just don't like him and it's not based on anything factual" ? Honestly, it's like pulling teeth but that's the pride and seemingly infinite hubris of the right.

It's not that difficult for me. I like Dennis Kucinich but know that there is no fucking way on earth that he should be president. I like Mitt Romney but wouldn't vote for him because I ideologically disagree with him on a number of issues. I dislike the Bushes but have to admit that the elder Bush was partly responsible for the economic boom of the 90s. And the younger, for all of his colossal fuck ups, literally shifted the tide in Africa regarding health and human services.

My confusion is best illustrated by the issue of taxes. Take a look at these figures, courtesy of Politifact and the Urban Institute-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center.

Second-lowest 20 percent

2008 tax burden: $1,715
2011 tax burden: $1,396
Decline of $319

2008 tax rate: 6.7 percent
2011 tax rate: 5.7 percent
Decline of 1 percentage point

Middle 20 percent

2008 tax burden: $6,290
2011 tax burden: $5,535
Decline of $775

2008 tax rate: 13.6 percent
2011 tax rate: 12.4 percent
Decline of 1.2 percentage points

Second-highest 20 percent

2008 tax burden: $13,749
2011 tax burden: $13,078
Decline of $671

2008 tax rate: 17.4 percent
2011 tax rate: 16.5 percent
Decline of 0.9 percentage points

So for each of the three middle quintiles, both the amount of tax paid and the effective tax rate paid declined. A significant portion of these three groups are: a) conservative and b) complain about their taxes being raised. Yet here is a president who lowered their taxes. Does he get credit?

Nope.

Why?

Because of personal preference.

What a craptacular way to run a country. Imagine where would be if people took the time to educate themselves on the facts and voted without feeling...without their pride. Now imagine if, instead of 55 percent of us voting, 95 percent of us voted.

What sort of country do you think we would have?

Friday, September 02, 2011

Deep In The Heart of Texas

We've heard quite a bit lately from the latest GOP primary presidential candidate, Governor of Texas Rick Perry, about how he is a "job creator." He points to his state of Texas as being an example of what he can do for the entire country. He champions himself as being a less spending, less government and less tax sort of fellow and, by gum, that's just what he is going to do with the federal government if the American people give him a chance.

The problem with all of this is...well...it's not really true.

Take a look at this graphic.

Take note of the bright blue state of Texas. That indicates that Texas is spending at an amount greater than 3% above FY08 levels. How very interesting. Compare them to the other states that are spending less, many of which are not doing as well as Texas. Of course, this all comes with some good news for states in general.

So, Governor Perry doesn't really spend less as he say he does and likely recognizes the benefits of government spending. But what about his other claims?

Factcheck recently released an excellent piece that outlines a series of additional facts as to why Texas is doing so well. It's true that Texas has added a great deal of jobs recently but they have also been doing so since 1970. In other words, that's normal for them. It's really a no brainer when you think about it given that they do have some of that there black gold down those parts.

Throw in jobs being added in the natural gas sector as well as all of those government jobs I have mentioned previously and it makes sense that Texas is the nation's leader in job creation. Yet, this creation of jobs hasn't kept pace with the influx of people an unemployment has risen to 8.4 percent in the last two years. This happened while the national rate was dropping. And Texas, along with Mississippi, has the largest percentage of hourly workers at or below the minimum wage. The lone star state also has the highest percentage of people without health care (26%).

In addition, Texas didn't experience the housing bust as other states did because of...wait for it...government restrictions on loans! What's that you say? The government interfering in the free market to improve a market outcome? Yes. Yes they did. And it benefited the citizens of Texas and their economy.

Finally, while Texans don't pay a personal income tax, they still pay above the national average in sales tax with local municipalities able to add on to that amount. Property taxes (collected at the local level) are among the highest in the nation.

So, Governor Perry's claims make no sense whatsoever when you consider these facts. He talks a good talk game about less spending, less government, and less taxes because he knows that plays well to the true believers. But the reality shows that he is doing what is necessary to govern.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

High Taxes?

Take a look at this chart.

















Oh...really? I thought that US Corporations where woefully overtaxed compared to other nations.

Here's a nice breakdown of the table if you are interested.

And to think I actually believed some of the lies about corporate taxes. I was even willing to give the captains of industry the benefit of the doubt. Fool me once...

Thursday, June 09, 2011

T-Paw's Plan

GOP candidate Tim Pawlenty has released his plan for saving the economy and, quite predictably, it adheres to conservative fiscal dogma. Let's take a look at a few of the points.

Eliminate capital gains tax, interest income tax, dividends tax and the estate tax.

We already have a problem with the cap gains tax and now he wants to eliminate it? Great. The wealthier people in this country already claim more of their income in cap gains since the rate is only 15 percent. This would shift even more of it under that protective umbrella and we'd lose even more revenue.

Cut business tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent.

Well, as Notes From The Front has shown recently, they already pay less than zero so what does it really matter?

Privatize the Postal Service, Amtrak, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

I'd actually go further on Fannie and Freddie...how about eliminating them entirely? I suppose privatizing them would accomplish the same goal. But privatizing Amtrak and the Post Office are not good ideas. With the former, one need only look to the deregulation of the airline industry to see how well privatization has gone. Find a pilot and ask them about the differences between today and when the government used to set the price. It's also amusing that the PO is now the right's favorite whipping boy. UPS and FedEx are both private companies and have the same crappy service issues that the post office has today.

Individual rates would be whittled to two tiers: 10 percent on income up to $50,000 ($100,000 for married couples), and 25 percent for "everything above that."

Well, you can forget about that 25 percent as most people in this tier will just put all their earnings in the newly minted 0 percent taxes on cap gains. But he does get closer to an idea that hasn't been floated out there in a while and that's the flat tax.

Suppose everyone was taxed at the same rate. For purposes of this demonstration, let's say 25 percent. And let's say that all the loopholes were removed so no matter what, 25 percent was what everyone paid. A person making 50K a year would pay $12, 500 dollars a year on federal income taxes. A person making 100K a year would pay $25,000 a year. Seems like everyone is paying their fair share, right? That's why it will never happen. We don't hear anything about the flat tax anymore from the right because they know they can game the system so they will always pay less.

So, how is Pawlenty selling all of this?

"If you can find a good or service on the Internet, then the federal government probably doesn't need to be doing it."

Huh. Well, I can find web sites that show me how to make explosives. Does that mean the army should stop making them? I can also find web sites that can teach me how to hack into other countries' computers that control their weapons and power systems. Or teach me how to spy on people. Should our government stop providing those services as well? Well, probably not since that falls under the "protecting us from bad guys" umbrella.

Once again, the overly simplistic approach to solving problem is laid bare. Personally, I'd rather have a president who understands the complexities of the world as opposed to someone who speaks awshucksian.

The real head scratcher to all of this is Pawlenty would roll back ALL federal regulation renewed by Congress. How he gets to this point after seeing the very clear causes of the collapse of 2008 is completely puzzling. Like many of my readers here, he must be cloaked in his Randian shield-impervious to the mere suggestion that governments can, in fact, sometimes improve market outcomes.

Like the socialist utopia, his eyes are filled with fantasies of a libertarian paradise where the people at Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo would (gasp) never consider behaving like money grubbing whores. Even if they did, the magical power of the market would always allocate its resources efficiently, right? None of them would ever put the entire financial system at risk simply due to ambitious greed.

Geez, something like that has NEVER happened!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Sobering Statistics

"40 percent of the people in this country doesn't even pay taxes!!!!"

We here that quite a bit from people that regularly go into anaphylactic shock regarding taxes. I wonder if they know about this..

How Our Largest Corporations Made $170 Billion During Great Recession And Paid No Taxes

Twelve of the nations largest Fortune 500 companies, while making $170 billion in profits during the period of The Great Recession, paid an effective tax rate of negative 1.5%.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Not only have these twelve companies paid zero in taxes for the years 2008-2010, they actually received tax subsidies that added $62.4 billion to their bottom lines.

Perhaps I need to revise my view on corporate taxes.

The fact that our economy isn't really recovering make more sense now. It's not just the banks that are hoarding money and lending out very little. It's corporations like Exxon, Verizon, and Honeywell. And we wonder why our debt and deficit are so high. Anyone who has any significant amount of money isn't paying taxes.

Moreover, these numbers prove that the idea that companies will just "go offshore if we raise taxes" is sub moronic. They are paying no taxes and still going off shore.

I take comfort in the fact that Ungar is a kindred spirit.

Seriously, people, do we need an anvil to fall on our heads before we get it?

Even that won't work, Rick.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

GE's Bright Idea: No Taxes

Recently General Electric announced that it made $14 billion in profit last year ($5.1 in the US). Its tax bill? Nothing. Nada. Zero. Zip. In fact, it claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion.

It did this through a maze of loopholes and tax breaks, and by not moving profits back to the United States. According to the Times article:
In a regulatory filing just a week before the Japanese disaster put a spotlight on the company’s nuclear reactor business, G.E. reported that its tax burden was 7.4 percent of its American profits, about a third of the average reported by other American multinationals. Even those figures are overstated, because they include taxes that will be paid only if the company brings its overseas profits back to the United States. With those profits still offshore, G.E. is effectively getting money back.
In other words they're playing a shell game to avoid paying taxes. This has serious implications for the rest of us:
Such strategies, as well as changes in tax laws, have pushed down the corporate share of the nation's tax receipts -- from 30 percent of all federal revenue in the mid-1950s to 6.6 percent in 2009.
This is not the first time GE has done this sort of thing:

As it has evolved, the company has used, and in some cases pioneered, aggressive strategies to lower its tax bill. In the mid-1980s, President Ronald Reagan overhauled the tax system after learning that G.E. — a company for which he had once worked as a commercial pitchman — was among dozens of corporations that had used accounting gamesmanship to avoid paying any taxes.

“I didn’t realize things had gotten that far out of line,” Mr. Reagan told the Treasury secretary, Donald T. Regan, according to Mr. Regan’s 1988 memoir. The president supported a change that closed loopholes and required G.E. to pay a far higher effective rate, up to 32.5 percent.

Some people don't find anything wrong with this, and think that corporations should pay any taxes at all. "It's double taxing," they'll say. Or, "They'll just pass it on to the customer."

First, it's not double taxing: corporations deduct all their expenses -- including salaries they pay to workers, cost of materials, local and state taxes, cost of production, even hotel stays and meals for CEOs -- to calculate profit.

As for passing the cost on: since taxes are only on profits, that price increase may be insignificant. Let's say I buy a blender for $100 and the company's profit is $10. Let's say the manufacturer's effective tax rate is 6%, or 60 cents on that blender. If the company's tax rate goes to 30% it will pay $3.00 in taxes. If it passes every penny of that on to me -- which is not a given for many reasons -- the blender will cost $2.40 more, or 2.4%.

But more importantly, if I don't buy a company's products, they won't be passing the cost on to me at all. If I save my money instead of buying big sailboats, and giant TVs and $500 tickets to football games, I won't be paying the taxes for those companies.

The money to pay for things like roads and the military has to come from somewhere. By reducing corporate tax burdens we are increasing the tax burdens on regular people. If corporations pay more, citizens can pay less.

But when you come right down to it, most everything the government spends its money on -- weather satellites, the FBI, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, highways, bridges, harbors, ports, the military, education -- is for the benefit of business. Yes, individuals benefit from these things, but they would have never happened without business demanding them.

For example: if you're like most people, the majority of the time you spend driving is between home and work. The highways are filled with trucks delivering stuff to businesses. Almost every time a new highway is proposed the argument is, "it'll be good for business."

Our military is used to "protect our interests" abroad. Those interests are entirely business interests. We invaded Iraq to ensure a stable supply of oil from a volatile region. We need oil to run our businesses. Shouldn't businesses help pay the salaries for the men and women in uniform who are protecting their interests?

Even the education system is essential for business. Without a system of free public education the United States would be totally uncompetitive in the world marketplace.

To be honest, there are some taxes that corporations already do pay their fair share of: Social Security and Medicare, the biggest part of the federal budget. Corporations should contribute their fair share to the rest of the federal budget as well.

Finally, when the Supreme Court ruled that corporations can spend unlimited amounts of money to influence the political process they declared that a company is a person for the purposes of free speech. If a corporation has the same right to free speech as a person, it should have the same responsibility as a person to pay taxes.

I'm not talking about sticking it to big corporations: I'm just talking about restoring effective corporate tax rates to the reasonable values they had under Eisenhower and Reagan. Is it right for companies like GE to turn their backs on America and avoid taxes by shipping all their profits off to the Caymans?