Monday, April 15, 2013

Death - But Maybe Not Taxes

We certainly won't be the first ones today to remind you of the old axiom that nothing is certain in life but death and taxes - though we may be the first ones to tell you that between the two, we tend to favor the Angel of Darkness.

The fact is, though, while every mortal being on Earth eventually dies, not everyone pays taxes anymore. We imagine that makes the Grim Reaper more than a bit jealous - and maybe even a bit afraid - of the legions of American corporate tax cheats, who are undoubtedly smiling at the pain of the "little people" who actually pay their taxes - primarily honest American workers

The fact is, whether you're a corporation or a person - or a person wealthy enough to hide behind the legal fabrications of being a corporation - that can make a huge difference on whether you pay taxes or not. As one of the latest studies from Citizens for Tax Justice proves, corporations from Fed Ex, to Pepco Electric to Southwest Airlines will be paying less than you will in taxes for 2012. Most of them will even be getting a handsome tax return for their creative manipulation of the tax code.

As journalist Sam Pizzigatti notes, once upon a time, all corporations in America paid taxes, way back in the heyday of the 1950s. For all the dreamy, longing talk of the race-divided, socially cloistered 1950s that Republicans continue to slobber about, the one thing we never hear any corporate-loving Republican discuss is the tax rates of the 1950s, which were significantly more effective in some ways than they are today.

Instead, you're far more likely to hear the false propaganda of right-wing shills like Mattie Duppler, who this weekend wormed her way onto 'Up with Steve Kornacki.' Right-wing hacks like Duppler are a dime a dozen, and inevitably always blame America's current tax problem on the false idea that too many of our tax dollars are being spent in ways they disagree with by someone they don't like. Currently, and for several years now, their target of blame has been President Obama.

For the record, everyone from the Wall Street Journal to NPR, and everyone in between - including our friend Rick Ungar at Forbes - have proven continually and repeatedly that the smallest government spender since Eisenhower is President Barack Obama. That of course completely disproves all the hacks like Duppler - a shill for the long-ago discredited anti-tax lobbyist Grover Norquist - who insist Obama is spending too much - which, in fact, he's not.

The real problem is that federal tax revenues are still at historically low levels - meaning the government is missing out on collecting some serious revenues.

We all know how some of America's wealthiest individuals - like former GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney - avoid paying taxes, by stuffing them in offshore tax havens like the Cayman Islands. Some corporations also use that route, among other strategies.

Pulitzer Prize-winning economic journalist David Cay Johnston notes that's not the only way the corporations in America get out of paying their fair share. Corporations manipulate the tax code in any way they can, even effectively stealing tax money from their employees in 21 states and pocketing the cash, while screwing both the states and their workers.

The long and short of our American tax problem is that in the long run, America will have to lower some of our government spending. In the short term however, the federal and state governments need to stop allowing corporations to steal, lie, and cheat their way out of paying their fair share of taxes. If the corporations won't stop their unethical and dishonest behavior, then the corporations need to have their own government-enforced meetings with the Grim Reaper.

If the choice given to those stealing from public trusts for their own private benefit truly was death or paying one's taxes, we have a feeling the old cloaked one would be a bit less jealous of the tax man - and that would be just fine with us.