Why not shared sacrifice?
Here is Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders discussing the scofflaw tax evaders.
Here is Sanders arguing on his own site:
While hard working Americans fill out their income tax returns this tax season, General Electric and other giant profitable corporations are avoiding U.S. taxes altogether.
With Congress returning to Capitol Hill on Monday to debate steep
spending cuts, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said the wealthiest Americans and most profitable corporations must do their share to help bring down our record-breaking deficit.
Sanders renewed his call for shared sacrifice after it was reported that General Electric and other major corporations paid no U.S. taxes after posting huge profits. Sanders said it is grossly unfair for congressional Republicans to propose major cuts to Head Start, Pell Grants, the Social Security Administration, nutrition grants for pregnant low-income women and the Environmental Protection Agency while ignoring the reality that some of the most profitable corporations pay nothing or almost nothing in federal income taxes.
Sanders compiled a list of some of some of the 10 worst corporate income tax avoiders.
(1) Exxon Mobil made $19 billion in profits in 2009. Exxon not only paid no federal income taxes, it actually received a $156 million rebate from the IRS, according to its SEC filings. (Source: Exxon Mobil’s 2009 shareholder report filed with the SEC here.)
(2) Bank of America received a $1.9 billion tax refund from the IRS last year, although it made $4.4 billion in profits and received a bailout from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department of nearly $1 trillion. (Source: Forbes.com here, ProPublica here and Treasury here.)
(3) Over the past five years, while General Electric made $26 billion in profits in the United States, it received a $4.1 billion refund from the IRS. (Source: Citizens for Tax Justice here and The New York Times here. Note: despite rumors to the contrary, the Times has stood by its story.)
(4) Chevron received a $19 million refund from the IRS last year after it made $10 billion in profits in 2009. (Source: See 2009 Chevron annual report here. Note 15 on page FS-46 of this report shows a U.S. federal income tax liability of $128 million, but that it was able to defer $147 million for a U.S. federal income tax liability of $-19 million)
(5) Boeing, which received a $30 billion contract from the Pentagon to build 179 airborne tankers, got a $124 million refund from the IRS last year. . (Source: Paul Buchheit, professor, DePaul University, here and Citizens for Tax Justice here.)
(6) Valero Energy, the 25th largest company in America with $68 billion in sales last year received a $157 million tax refund check from the IRS and, over the past three years, it received a $134 million tax break from the oil and gas manufacturing tax deduction. (Source: the company’s 2009 annual report, pg. 112, here.)
(7) Goldman Sachs in 2008 only paid 1.1 percent of its income in taxes even though it earned a profit of $2.3 billion and received an almost $800 billion from the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury Department. (Source: Bloomberg News here, ProPublica here, Treasury Department here.)
(8) Citigroup last year made more than $4 billion in profits but paid no federal income taxes. It received a $2.5 trillion bailout from the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury. (Source: Paul Buchheit, professor, DePaul University, here, ProPublica here, Treasury Department here.
(9) ConocoPhillips, the fifth largest oil company in the United States, made $16 billion in profits from 2006 through 2009, but received $451 million in tax breaks through the oil and gas manufacturing deduction. (Sources: Profits can be found here. The deduction can be found on the company’s 2010 SEC 10-K report to shareholders on 2009 finances, pg. 127, here)
(10) Over the past five years, Carnival Cruise Lines made more than $11 billion in profits, but its federal income tax rate during those years was just 1.1 percent. (Source: The New York Times here)
Sanders has called for closing corporate tax loopholes and eliminating tax breaks for oil and gas companies. He also introduced legislation to impose a 5.4 percent surtax on millionaires that would yield up to $50 billion a year. The senator has said that spending cuts must be paired with new revenue so the federal budget is not balanced solely on the backs of working families.
“We have a deficit problem. It has to be addressed,” Sanders said, “but it cannot be addressed on the backs of the sick, the elderly, the poor, young people, the most vulnerable in this country. The wealthiest people and the largest corporations in this country have got to contribute. We’ve got to talk about shared sacrifice.”
It’s not just the corporations; there are also those individuals: Newly released tax data shows the tax rate for the wealthiest Americans has been effectively cut in half since the mid-1990s. In 1995, the richest 400 Americans paid on average 30 percent of their income in federal taxes. In 2007, the richest Americans paid less than 17 percent. During that same period, the combined annual income of the richest 400 Americans soared from $6 billion to $23 billion. On Monday, Tax Day protests were held in some 300 cities, including the one I attended in Poughkeepsie, NY. Many protesters focused their attention on Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Google for avoiding to pay their full share of taxes by using tax code loopholes.
The right wing is on the attack: slashing public services, eliminating workers’ rights, and destroying jobs. Their excuse? “America is broke”—and yet big corporations and the wealthy are raking it in, and continue to get tax break after tax break. Something doesn’t add up.
America is not broke. The right-wing wants to convince us we’re broke so that they can push through their radical agenda. And well-connected corporations continue to use their political power to dodge their taxes. In 2009, after helping crash the American economy, Bank of America paid $0 in taxes. GE had a tax bill of $0 in 2010. Republicans want to give a $50 billion tax bailout to big oil companies—and at the same time take away food aid to hungry pregnant women and children. This is immoral and un-American.
Enough is enough! On Tax Day, April 18, as millions of Americans patriotically paid their taxes, we called on corporations and millionaires to pay their fair share. At hundreds of events from coast to coast, we presented tax bills to corporate tax dodgers for the billions of dollars their legions of lobbyists helped them avoid. We organized a peaceful, dignified, and powerful day of action to call on corporations to pay their fair share. And we demanded that our elected leaders make them pay.
It’s time to demand that everyone pays their fair share to rebuild the American Dream. We invite frustrated taxpayers, underwater homeowners, vilified public servants, job-hunting students, and unemployed veterans—everyone facing cuts or cutbacks, a pink slip or a shrinking paycheck—to join in protests. See US Uncut (www.usuncut.org) and It’s Our Economy (www.itsoureconomy.us).