so much for death and taxes

As Ben Franklin famously observed, “Nothing is certain but death and taxes.” That is, unless you’re a large, powerful corporation type-of-person. In which case you can live forever, and completely dodge your tax-paying responsibilities.

So, this Tax Day, amidst a plethora of service-cutting budget proposals, here’s a medley of corporate tax-evading infuriation.

1. Chuck Collins, senior scholar for the Institute of Policy Studies urges us to “remember the tax dodgers” this tax day. “If you write a check over $10 to the IRS,” notes Collins, “you just paid more than Verizon, Boeing, Bank of America, Citigroup and General Electric combined [!] in federal taxes.”

Sounds unbelievable? It should. But unfortunately, it’s not.

2. The Nation magazine offers a slideshow of companies that made billions in profits, and yet received millions in tax breaks, including Exxon/Mobil, who reported “$19 billion in profits,” and received a “$156 million rebate from the IRS.” And General Electric, who got a “$4.1 billion refund from the IRS” despite raking in “$19 billion in profits,” as well.

One thing GE didn’t do, despite the recently-released (fake) press release stating so, was plan on returning their tax break in full by this year’s Tax Day.

3. Rather, the press release was created by activists at US Uncut to highlight the fact that GE and other “corporate persons” are avoiding their tax-paying patriotic responsibilities, despite the profits they are reporting. “No corporation is an island,” pointed out US Uncut spokesperson Carl Gibson, “even if they hide all their profits in tropical tax havens.” 

Earlier this week, fellow Uncutters Andrew Boyd and Justin Wedes spoke on the Thom Hartmann Show (around the 22:00 minute mark in video below) about the prank, and the purpose behind it.

So, what’s the best way to insure that tax cheats pay up? The IRS.

4. Every “single dollar spent on enforcing the tax code,” notes Huffington Post columnist Sam Stein, results “in up to ten dollars in revenue.” Which seems like a pretty good investment. Except that, as part of the new budget, IRS funding is being cut. Which is moronic at best, and deceitful at worst. Why cut a miniscule amount of funding that is proven to result in a higher amount of revenue? “Cutting back on IRS enforcement could easily cost the treasury much more in revenue than it saves,” notes the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ Chuck Marr.

Of course, no one likes the tax collector, no matter how essential their job is. But maybe, in this time of dire fiscal crisis, we should all appreciate them a bit more.

5. And The Pale King, the recently-released posthumous novel by verbal-gymnastics impressario David Foster Wallace, attempts to do just that. The book is a fictitious look at “the agents at the IRS Regional Examination Center in Peoria, Illinois,” who perform “a routine so tedious and repetitive that new employees receive boredom-survival training.” But maybe, today, nothing is more needed than their tedious tasks.

So, on this special 2011 April 18th version of Tax Day, I salute the tax collectors. Thank you tax collectors!

Happy Tax Day!

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Filed under Accountable Wealth, Activism, Fair Taxation

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