Taxpayers, time to unite against tax dodgers

We all pay taxes. While corporations like GE make record profits, not paying a dime Photo: Associated Press

EASTON, Md, April 4, 2011 — April 15th looms over us all, the date that we face with fear and loathing, no matter what our political label is.

Across America, tax procrastinators are putting on another pot of coffee, pulling out the calculator, lugging down boxes of receipts, and wondering what’s worse, death or taxes.

President Obama appears at GE (Schenectady, N.Y.) to showcase GE's outsourcing of jobs to India and announce a restructured presidential advisory board focusing on employment and competitiveness to be led by GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt (Photo: Associated Press)

President Obama appears at GE (Schenectady, N.Y.) to showcase GE’s outsourcing of jobs to India and announce a restructured presidential advisory board focusing on employment and competitiveness to be led by GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt (Photo: Associated Press)

I admit I am among the procrastinators.

I don’t like taxes anymore than the next person, even if that doesn’t fit the Liberal myth. However, I know they are necessary.

If we don’t pay our taxes, here is some of what can happen to America:

Our roads and bridges crumble;

America becomes vulnerable to attack;

Our food, drugs, drinking water, and the very air we breathe could be contaminated;

Educational opportunities would worsen;

The FBI, CIA, and other law enforcement would be cut back;

National parks would be neglected or sold off;

Our military personnel and veterans would find their benefits and paychecks much diminished.

And that’s just for starters.

So we bite the bullet, struggle with impossible tax forms and arcane tax codes, call in accountants to help us traverse the tax maze, and then pray that we don’t owe one penny more than we paid the last year.

We could probably survive that ordeal and even the silly tax proclamations of Congress, if we knew everyone, and that means everyone, were sharing the pain.

But that’s not the case.

Corporations Are the Real Artful Dodgers

While the folks on the Right bemoan welfare queens and other Tea Party bogeymen, the real villains are the Corporate Tax Dodgers.

These are the same corporations which benefit from our democracy, our infrastructure that makes their businesses possible, and our protection of their intellectual rights. 

One of the biggest culprits is GE. Its egregious behavior is beyond chutzpah.

President Barack Obama, accompanied by GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt, left, whom he appointed as the head of a Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, delivers remarks at the General Electric plant in Schenectady, N.Y. (Photo: Associated Press)

President Barack Obama, accompanied by GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt, left, whom he appointed as the head of a Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, delivers remarks at the General Electric plant in Schenectady, N.Y. (Photo: Associated Press)

In 2010, GE raked in $14.2 billion in global profits. Good for them. However, they paid zero taxes and got a $3.2 billion rebate. 

How did they pull this sleight of hand? Their team of 975 accountants and lawyers, known as the “profit center,” tucked their profits in countries like Bermuda, Ireland, or the Cayman Islands that allowed them to escape our taxes. 

Actually GE has paid no federal taxes since 2006.  Are you mad yet?

If they don’t pay their share of taxes, whom do you suppose must take up the slack? Right. You and me!

It costs each taxpayer an average of $500 per year for the U.S. to make up for the Corporate Tax Dodgers .

Companies like GE and their ilk, which shelter their money offshore to the tune of $100 billion a year or $1 trillion over ten years, are robbing you of what you earned. 

Mad yet?

Then listen to GE gloating in December 2010 of the $94 billion of earnings they have “indefinitely reinvested outside of the US…we do not intend to repatriate these earnings.” (GE’s 2010 SEC 10-L Tax filing) 

Translation: they will not invest in America, creating jobs.  Are you mad now?

The Fox in Charge of the Hen House

Want to add insult to injury? President Obama appointed the CEO of GE, Jeffrey Immelt, as the Chairman of Council on Jobs & Competitiveness.

Yet it was President Obama, who in his State of the Union address earlier this year, disparaged “those [companies] with accountants or lawyers to work the system and can end up paying no tax at all.”

Didn’t he vet Immelt?

And what did Immelt have to say about creating jobs in this country: The US needs to be a country that builds things,” to revive the economy and create good jobs.

Sounds wonderful till you realize Immelt is the same gentleman who has outsourced half of his company to locations outside of the US.

Both Progressives and the Tea Party were in rare agreement on the choice of Immelt, finding him questionable from the start, since both groups saw GE as being “a big outsourcer of jobs overseas, on the one hand, and a shameless beneficiary of ‘corporate welfare’ on the other “.

Middle Class Is Low Hanging Fruit

Until we convince Congress to overhaul the tax code that favors the super rich and corporations, Middle Class Americans will continue to foot the bill. And remember, corporate lobbyists with deep pockets are courting your representatives in Congress.

Do you have a lobbyist? No? Of course not.

The only way to make your voice heard is to be a Citizen Lobbyist and become part of the chorus that calls Congress and the White House (202-456-1111) with demands for tax code reform:

Tell the President and Congress they must pass legislation to end the use of offshore tax havens and remove this unfair burden from taxpayers.

Until then, know that we average taxpayers are what’s known as “low hanging fruit,” just waiting to be plucked off the tax tree by the IRS. 

Don’t have all your receipts for those charitable contributions you made last year? Too bad. Produce them or owe taxes and/or penalties.

As for those folks with the CPAs and tax lawyers, it is so much harder to go after them than it is to nab us. We’re easy pickings.

I hope by now you are hopping mad. 

However don’t just rant and rave against paying taxes that make America great or against the working poor who have to use free clinics for birth control or your kid’s teacher who is barely keeping it together on the salary she earns as collective bargaining flies out the window.

These are distractions manufactured by Right Wing ideologues. 

The real scoundrels are those who don’t believe in shared sacrifice, who don’t believe the rules apply to them, who see taxes as something the little guy pays, not them, who ship our jobs overseas, and then get tax refunds worth billions of dollars as they do so.

These are the people plundering the American dream.  Not the American next door.

 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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