BY WILLIAM C. HENRY Yet another tax-avoidance tumor is metastasizing in the belly of the corporate beast. The perps themselves refer to it as “tax inversion” (truth be told, they’d really prefer that the matter not be referred to at all) but please feel free to recognize it for what it really is: Big Greed’s most brazen effort to date to avoid its patriotic responsibility and shove the nation’s tax burden even farther up the ass of a dwindling middle class! Corporate apologists like to point out that America has the highest corporate tax rate (35%) on the planet, but what they don’t say is that, thanks to tax law chicanery, few if any corporation pays close to 35% of their earnings, and many pay no taxes at all.
The only reason why any corporation is paying anything even approaching that rate is they didn’t buy the right lobbyists and/or politicians (or their accounting department is utterly incompetent). Yet, day in and day out we hear Republicans pissing and moaning about the debilitating effect our “astronomical” corporate tax rate is having on American competitiveness. Don’t be deceived. It’s just part of the Grand Old Pretext the GOP circulates to hide their complicity in securing lower effective tax rates for their “more generous” corporate campaign contributors.
A splendid example of the absurdity of America’s political/corporate tax climate is New York state’s current 140 MILLION DOLLAR campaign to attract more corporate tax chiselers! That’s right folks, New York state’s already over-burdened tax payers are being asked to bear the cost of that promotion as well as the cost of resultant lost tax revenues. Under the state’s proposal, if you’re willing to set up your corporation in the Empire State, the state will exempt you from ALL taxes for the next 10 YEARS! Hell, that bears repeating. Never mind the cost of providing access to utilities, police and fire protection, or even construction of roads to get everyone to and from said place of business, the state will exonerate you from paying ANY New York taxes whatsoever for the next 10 YEARS! Holy corporate irresponsibility, Batman!
For all the carping and tears emanating from Republican soapboxes and corporate boardrooms, you’d think the NYSE was about to implode. Well, au contraire mon laissez-faires, every American stock exchange’s ticker tape has never been greener. For God’s sake, corporate profits are at the HIGHEST levels in history! As usual, however, the plutocratic devils are in the details. Once you’ve fought your way through the fine print you come to realize that people like you and I are paying dearly for every penny of that phony prosperity. It comes in the form of fewer living-wage jobs, static or lower wages in existing jobs, higher prices, higher middle class personal taxes and “user fees,” and ever increasing debt both personal and governmental. Yes, folks, there are still no free lunches.
No where on Earth do corporations enjoy the type and extent of guarantees and protections afforded by United States federal, state and local governments (read: taxpayers). And no where on earth do they pay so relatively little for them, or appear so relatively unappreciative of them. Funny how they expect the very best in public/governmental infrastructure and safeguards but seem altogether loathe to support the costs of their construction and maintenance. And here we are back at the taxes thing. But don’t blame Obama, folks. He’s actually trying to do something about this travesty. Blame Congress, and especially its right-side isle contingent. Only they possess the authority to permanently correct the situation. However, given the fact that we’re in an election year, and Republican reluctance to do anything that might jeopardize their corporate clientele’s campaign support — as well as their overriding philosophical aversion to doing ANYTHING to assist or relieve what little is left of an already over-burdened American Middle Class — please don’t waste any of your time hoping for a kind of collective Republican guilty conscience that might force them into doing the equitable or honorable thing. Guilt and greed don’t mix.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Fed up early stage septuagenarian who has actually been most of there and done most of that. Born and raised in the picturesque Pocono Mountains. Quite well educated. Very lucky to have been born into a well-schooled and somewhat prosperous family. Long divorced. One beautiful, brilliant daughter. Two far above average grandsons. Semi-retired (how does anyone manage to do it completely these days?) and fully-tired of bullshit. Uncle of the Editor-In-Chief.