Briefing Notes No 32
We’re Not Broke
March 22, 2013
After-screening panel discussion and Q and A with John Christensen, Director Tax Justice Network, and Carol Moore, DAUK member
America is in the grip of a societal economic panic. Lawmakers cry ‘We’re broke!’ as they slash budgets, lay off schoolteachers, police, and firefighters, crumbling our country’s social fabric and leaving many Americans scrambling to survive. Meanwhile, multibillion-dollar American corporations like Exxon, Google and Bank of America are making record profits.
And while the deficit climbs and the cuts go deeper, these corporations – with their intimate ties to our political leaders—are concealing colossal profits overseas to avoid paying U.S. income tax.”
Besides Occupy and US Uncut’s activities, the 2012 campaigns put the issue of taxation ’fairness’ high on the US political agenda. While much of the emphasis was on individual rather than corporate taxation, the extent and methods of corporate tax avoidance have increasingly been put under a spotlight.
Despite the heavy lobbying efforts on corporate taxation highlighted in the film, Democratic members of Congress have been active on these issues with hearings, bills and now budget proposals that include action on tax havens and practices such as transfer– pricing.
Most polls, e.g. Gallup in 2011 and 2012, show that a very high percentage (68%, 64%) of Americans believe that corporations are not paying their fair share of taxes.
In a globalized world, these issues are complex, and multi-layered. US corporations often assert that they are ‘legally required to maximize profits’ and that tax minimization is therefore ‘required.’ But some CEOs also stress that they support moves to ‘create more level playing fields.’
Changes in retail trading also have impacts on states’ tax revenues and ‘fair’ competition. For example, several US states have made extensive efforts to compel internet sellers to collect and pay state sales tax.
As the arbitrary spending cuts mandated by the sequester roll out, and the Democrats present their first Senate budget proposal since 2009, perhaps the revenue element in the deficit equation will get the attention it needs. But to achieve any change, our success in the 2014 elections is critical.
Resources for Further Research (2013)
Legislation and action:
See #gopsequester on Twitter for links
Bernie Sanders (S) and Jan Schakowski (H.R.) Corporate Tax Fairness Bill 2013
Carl Levin (S68) Cut Loopholes Bill 2013
Congressional Research Service. “Tax Havens: International Tax Avoidance and Evasion” January 2013.
Books and online resources
Citizens for Tax Justice. covers state and federal tax issues
Nicholas Shaxson. Treasure Islands (2012).
The information and sources provided as well as the views expressed here reflect
neither the views of DAUK or the Democratic Party nor their endorsement of, or association with them.