Despite complaints about the U.S.’s burdensome 35% corporate tax rate, two-thirds of American corporations pay no taxes in a given year. In a speech last week on the Senate floor, Senator Bernie Sanders (I) of Vermont called out the top 10 corporate tax avoiders:
Among those actually getting money back from the Feds:
- ExxonMobil made $19 billion in profits in 2009, paid no federal income taxes, received a $156 million rebate
- Bank of America received a $1.9 billion IRS refund despite $4.4 billion of profits
- General Electric had $26 billion in profits, and $4.1 billion refund (GE made it onto another top 10 list of top corporate lobbyists in 2010, spending $39 million)
- Chevron nabbed a $19 million refund after making $10 billion in profits
Wall Street made the list as well; the Senator’s office notes,”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.”
Spreading the Burden, if not the Wealth
Given the nation’s $1.6 trillion deficit, Senator Sanders suggests that the burden of deficit reduction be shared more equally, rather than hurting working people, sick children, and others ill-equipped for optimal lobbying.
Senator Sanders has called for eliminating corporate tax loopholes and getting rid of tax breaks for oil and gas companies. He has introduced a bill that would raise an estimated $50 billion through an “emergency” 5.4 percent extra tax on people with adjusted gross incomes of over one million dollars.
Sharing the pain…not happening
Senator Sanders says that serious times call for shared sacrifice. Those are beautiful words, but sharing sacrifice seems like a fairy tale in a country where the top five percent own nearly two-thirds of our nation’s wealth.
Despite the Supreme Court ‘s finding that corporations are basically people in the eyes of the law, corporations themselves cannot be moral or immoral — they are entities, not sentient beings. We have a system that rewards the gamers, where winners take all, and influence peddling is rife; where the defense for a highly profitable company not paying taxes is that it is within the law. As American families face the looming April 15 tax deadline, it is tough to hear corporations claim that mere compliance is enough in a system where laws and loopholes can be bought and sold.
Photo: Senator Bernie Sanders via YouTube