Top ten list: Tax evaders' wall of shame

When corporations don't pay their share of taxes, it's the rest of us who make up the difference. Americans are being sucker-punched by the Big Boys. Photo: Associated Press

EASTON, Md. — April 11, 2011 — When you read about GE paying no corporate federal taxes in 2010 while getting a $3.2 billion rebate, does your blood start to boil?  

If you listened to the corporate whining, you probably thought companies like GE paid 35% in federal taxes. Not so. It’s a rare company that ponies up that amount.

For too long the American public has been hornswoggled by this century’s “robber barons.”

Remember, it was our tax dollars that saved the hides of many of these multinationals with colossal bailouts, and how do they say thanks? 

By not paying their taxes. Nada, zero, zilch. And it’s legal, thanks to Congress.

However, I am betting you’ll pay your 2010 taxes on April 15th.

It is shameful that our giant corporations ship American jobs abroad, leaving our workers on unemployment insurance. These same businesses then have the nerve not to pay their fair share.

Want to know who these corporate culprits are? Look no further than the Wall of Shame where you will find the top ten Corporate Tax Dodgers, many who brought this country to the brink of an economic meltdown.

An employee walks past a Boeing 767 under assembly. (Photo: Associated Press)

An employee walks past a Boeing 767 under assembly. (Photo: Associated Press)

WALL OF SHAME

The Outrageous Top Ten in Alphabetical Order

 1. Bank of America took $336 billion in bailouts in 2009, but in 2010, flush with $4.4 billion in profits, it paid no taxes. Even Forbes magazine asked, how is that possible? Probably thanks to their 115 offshore tax havens.

2. Boeing just received $35 billion from our government to build 179 airborne tankers, but despite nearly $10 billion in profits from 2008 to 2010, it too paid no taxes, again thanks to foreign tax havens.

3. Citicorp took $476 billion from the bailout and then made monster profits in 2010, yet it paid no taxes, thanks to 427 subsidiaries in tax havens like the Cayman Islands and Hong Kong.

4. Exxon/Mobil, received huge oil subsidies from the government and earned $45 billion in 2009 but paid no taxes, again thanks to stashing profits in places like the Bahamas and Singapore.

5. GE – see last week’s column for the stats and facts on this corporation’s tax dodge.

6. Google utilizes a technique that moves most of its income through Ireland and Netherlands to Bermuda, making its tax rate 2.3 percent. 

7. Mega Pharmaceuticals Merck earned $9 billion in profits and paid no taxes in 2010, while Pfizer (largest drug maker) owed $10 billion in taxes but found the necessary loopholes to pay no taxes, thanks to its offshore subsidiaries in places like Luxembourg and the Isle of Jersey. 

8. News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch’s media monolith that owns Fox News avoids paying American taxes through its 152 subsidiaries in tax havens from the British Virgin Islands to Hong Kong.

9. Verizon, despite making $24.2 billion in pre-tax US income, paid no taxes and actually claimed a federal refund of $1.3 billion for the last two years, again all thanks to those offshore subsidiaries. 

10. Wells Fargo, the fourth largest bank in the US, which took $107 billion in bailouts, wrote off all its losses by acquiring Wachovia, thus paying no taxes. Yet its CEO earned $5.6 million in cash for his salary and $13 million in stock.  

Don’t you wish you could stay where you live now but declare your income in Bermuda or the Grand Cayman Islands? Then you could go visit your money and write it off as a business trip.

The GAO (the Government Accountability Office) found that 18,857 US companies keep a post office box in one five-storey building in the Cayman Islands.

In fact, 80 percent of the largest US corporations use offshore tax havens. Little wonder 57 percent of these companies paid no federal income taxes for at least one year from 1998 to 2005.

How Corporations Get Away with It

So where are our elected officials and loud mouth politicians on this topic?  Pretty quiet, aren’t they?

That is except for Presidential Wannabe Newt Gingrich, who during a recent interview excused Arch Coal, the second largest coal supplier in the US, which paid no taxes in 2009 on its $42 million profit. 

Sounds like small potatoes when compared to what other corporations are doing, but pay attention to Gingrich’s logic.

He defended corporate tax loopholes, saying,“They are an incentive, not a loophole. We should celebrate that as a good thing.”

Gingrich went on to say that these companies “employ thousands…of people [who] are contributing a lot to America.” (http://www.youtube.com)

In other words, we workers will pay the taxes, but not the corporations. Sounds a lot like Leona Helmsley, who famously said, “Only the little people pay taxes.”

What Gingrich doesn’t say is that Arch Coal made a direct $100,000 contribution to his political committee, American Solution for Winning the Future.

Nor does he reveal that Arch Coal is notorious for cutting off the top of mountains to dig for coal, leading the EPA to revoke the permit to slice off the tops of some of West Virginia’s pristine mountains.

No wonder corporations court politicians. As Deep Throat so wisely told reporter Bob Woodward,“Always follow the money.”

What Would Happen If Corporations Paid Up?

Often you’ll hear someone rhapsodize about lowering the corporate tax rate to 25%, as though that would suddenly give corporations a moral compass.

So let’s dare to dream big and assume that corporations would suddenly feel a surge of social responsibility, deciding to pay their taxes like the rest of us.

No more loopholes for them. No more offshore tax havens. No more accounting gimmicks. The result? Billions of dollars in tax revenue.

But the reality is that instead of focusing on tax loopholes, the Republicans are eager to take a scalpel to the IRS, cutting $600 million from its budget. The result? The IRS would collect $4 billion less in revenue.

With that kind of muddled thinking, it’s no wonder so many of us hold out little hope that there will be any meaningful tax reform done by this Congress.

It is going to take taxpayer anger to light a fire under these guys.

Americans need to do what military families did to keep the Republicans from closing down the government and delaying their pay. They deluged the offices of their Representatives with stories of what a government shut down would do to their lives without those paychecks.

Taxpayers’ voices can only be heard if raised.

The Wall of Shame should be hanging in every Congressional office.  Congress should be as furious as we are at these corporations.

Talk is cheap and to continue to do nothing is a price America can no longer pay.

 To contact Catherine Poe, see above. Her work appears in Ad Lib in the Communities at the Washington Times and at the Democratic Forum.


This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Catherine Poe

Catherine was named one of the top Progressives in Maryland along with Senator Barbara Mikulski and Congresswoman Donna Edwards. She has been a guest of President Obama in the Rose Garden.

As past president of Long Island NOW, she worked to reform women's prisons in New York, open the construction trades to women, change laws to safeguard battered women, and protect the rights of rape victims. 

Long active in Democratic politics, she served as the presidentof the Talbot Democrats in Maryland for six years and fought to getthe Health Care Reform bill passed.

Catherine has been published in a diverse range of newspapers and magazines, including Newsday, Star Democrat, Rocky Mountain News, Yellowstone News, and the Massachusetts Review.

If Catherine has learned anything over the years it is that progressive change does not come easily, but in baby steps. 

Contact Catherine Poe

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