Search This Blog

Monday, April 18, 2011

Senator Sanders asks, "Tax Time? Not for Giant Corporations"

From Senator Bernie Sanders

Release: Tax Time? Not for Giant Corporations

March 27, 2011
Sanders Calls for Shared Sacrifice

BURLINGTON, Vt., March 27 - 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: 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."

Saturday, April 9, 2011

GOP and Tea Party Budget Cuts Make No Sense Mathematically or Logically

To any and all self-proclaimed supporters of Ryan or the Tea Party:

Where would you start on a 2012 White House proposed budget that is projected to take in $2.6 trillion and spend $3.7 trillion? (

Numbers with the word trillion after them can be hard to comprehend. I got a quizzical look recently from a family member when I used million-million. So here's what I do.

$3.7trillion = $3,700,000,000,000 = $3700 billion

Drop all the extraneous zeros and start out talking about $3700.00. Thirty seven hundred dollars is a number anyone can understand. That turns tens and hundreds of millions into pennies and dimes, respectively.

Even a number as large as one billion becomes easier to grasp out of 3700 billion when you realize that it's one "dollar" out of 3700. That one (billion) dollar(s) becomes a paltry and practically meaningless - in a relative sense - 0.027% of the total.

With that in mind, I would be curious to know where the following would end up on anyone's list for cuts greater than might already be built into the 2012 budget.

Planned Parenthood (Title X)
“Unlike the House Republicans’ Continuing Resolution for the rest of Fiscal Year 2011, which Congress is debating this week, the president’s budget proposes a $10 million increase to the Title X program, calling for this critical program to be funded at $327 million."

327 million = 0.327 billion. That's 33 cents out of 3700 dollars. It's 0.00891% of the total budgeted expense of our federal government.

"CPB requests a $495 million advance appropriation for FY 2014, an increase of $50 million over the last enacted advance appropriation ($445 million in FY 2012)."

445 million for FY 2012 is 0.445 billion. That's 45 cents out of 3700 dollars, or 0.01216%.

Head Start
"Continues strong support for high-quality early childhood programs with more than $8 billion for Head Start and Early Head Start to serve approximately 968,000 children and families"

8 (billion) is 0.216% of 3700 (billion)

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) mission is to protect human health and the environment. The President’s 2012 Budget includes $9 billion to continue to deliver on this mission, a decrease of $1.3 billion.

A $1.3 billion decrease on $10.3 billion is a 12.6% REDUCTION in spending for the EPA.

$9 (billion) is 0.24% of 3700 (billion).

The President's 2012 Budget for the Department of Defense (DOD) reflects that commitment, proposing $553 billion - an increase of $22 billion above the 2010 appropriation.

A $22 billion increase to $553B is a 4% INCREASE in spending on defense.

$553 (billion) is 14.94% of $3700 (billion)

So, do we start with more cuts to tiny programs that may have already had their budgets cut, or do we cut those where there's a planned increase and that account for significant percentages of the total? I say the latter.

Mathematically and logically, do we start with expenses that represent 33 cents, 45 cents, 8 dollars, 9 dollars, or 553 dollars out of 3700? Doesn't make sense to me to cut pennies when hundreds of dollars are possible.

Do we cut more from programs that represent 0.00891%, 0.01216%, 0.216%, 0.24%, or 15% of the total projected expense? I say the one that is 15% ought to be cut first.

Tax Revenues
Depending on what numbers one wants to accept and acknowledging that it seems impossible to do this with any certainty by people way more smarter than I, one thing seems clear even to me. The Bush era tax cuts and their extension is costing the government anywhere from 1.6 to 2.5trillion in uncollected tax revenues - mostly from the rich - and has not done one friggin' thing to improve the economy as far as I can tell.

IMHO, it's crazy and dangerous to pretend the budget can be balanced and the debt reduced only by cutting expenses. Tax revenues also have to be increased.

My plan would be simple because I'm simply not fully informed or smarter than anyone else. It's just where I - a common man like any tea bagger...except without the pointy hat and Ben Franklin get-up - would start.

1. Raise income and capital gains taxes on richest 2% and on corporate profits immediately to Clinton era levels. Even higher would be ok, too. I'm using that era in our history if for no other reason than it was a time when there was economic expansion and a budget surplus.

2. Change the tax code immediately to a more progressive schedule that captures more tax the more income that individuals make (and presumably, then, encouraging the true heroes of capitalism - and I mean it sincerely - the small business owner to make a decent living while having a tax incentive to invest "excess" income back into their business)

3. Close every corporate tax loop hole there is, starting with the ones that benefit oil, coal, gas, and financial services industries. They are doing just fine without them, thank you very much.

4. Not only *not* increase the DoD budget, but find ways to cut it by....I don't know....10% seems reasonable. More is better. Stopping the pissing away of lives and money in the Middle East would help, too.

Just my 2 cents. It's about all I have left.....