Here we are gearing up for another election year with chatter about taxes bubbling up as usual. From the ideas of flat taxes to reducing taxes to stimulate growth and beyond, you’re sure to hear even more about who should be taxed and who shouldn’t. It’s true that most middle income and poor families in the U.S. are being heavily and unfairly taxed. Your taxes should be reduced, and corporations and their ultra-rich officers and stockholders should pay their fair share.
How does all this political chatter affect me, you may wonder? The American public has been anesthetized into being exploited by tax laws that subsidize the richest people at the expense of the many. Corporations and the rich people who own them avoid billions of dollars in taxes each year. It’s highway robbery.
Many of the owners of these corporations rail against social programs and the idea of “socialism” while their companies are benefiting from the use of highways, airports, fire departments, education and health care for their workers and other services—all funded by you, the taxpayer. Meanwhile they make billions of dollars in profits, but do not support these institutions that serve them and their employees. Big Business is the most heavily socialized institution in the world today.
For example, the Waltons, owners of Walmart, are billionaires and many billionaires often criticize the very social programs that benefit their workers. Walmart workers are estimated to be subsidized by U.S. taxpayers to the tune of more than $6 billion a year in public nutrition, health care and housing assistance programs.
Wealthy individuals and corporate lobbyists have the means to convince government officials to give them favorable tax and regulatory treatment. In my upcoming book The New Confessions Of An Economic Hit Man (February 2016), I list many tax-dodging corporations and highlight several all-too-common stories, including the case of Boeing in the state where I live, Washington.
Last year Boeing’s advocates worked tirelessly to convince state officials to give them tax breaks, or else they’d move production of the 777X plane to another state. Lawmakers eventually passed a law enacting a corporate tax break to Boeing that saved Boeing an estimated lifetime value of $8.7 billion. And cost me and other Washington tax payers big time!
Overall, since 2000, the federal government has distributed $68 billion in grants and special tax credits to businesses, according to Good Jobs First, a national policy center. And the majority of these didn’t go to mom-and-pop shops or entrepreneurs starting up—2/3 of the money went to large corporations.
When corporations don’t pay their fair share of taxes, communities suffer the long-term consequences of deteriorating schools, roads, recreational facilities and natural resources. Money is removed from the local tax base that was originally headed to those services and instead handed to the corporations.
What Can You Do?
Support reform movements to fairly tax corporations. I know many corporate executives who say they understand that the system’s not working, and they want to see it changed. They know they should be paying a lot more in taxes, but if their competition is getting huge tax breaks, then they want the breaks, too.
You and I have to push the executives and politicians to make it a level playing field. We can also start our own consumer campaigns via email or social media to tell Walmart and other companies that we want them to start paying their fair share in taxes. If you choose not to shop there, let them and your friends know why you’re not shopping there.
As the presidential election year cycle ramps up, be very aware of where the candidates stand on this issue—and strive to be knowledgeable about local elections and who is really supporting the well-being of your community and its people, not just the corporatocracy.
Corporations that give lip service to benefiting the community can actually be a huge drain on it. Taxes are necessary in any society. Even indigenous people pay them, in the form of time spent on projects that benefit the community. However, the people and corporations who get the biggest benefits from what the taxes go to should pay the biggest share.