September 27, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Marc Norton
The Chronicle got it half-right, if telling half-truths can be described that way.
In a September 23 article, hidden in plain sight on the front page of the business section, where few of the paper's more proletarian readers would find it, the Chron reported that "some of the United States' biggest, most profitable corporations saw their federal income tax rates decline over the last three years, thanks to recent tax cuts..." Hot off the press!
This should come as no surprise to anyone who ever glances at a newspaper or occasionally listens to the news. It is the essence of the Bush regime -- the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
But this article, based on a new report from Citizens for Tax Justice, the renowned national progressive think-tank and advocacy organization, buried the real hot button news from the CTJ report in an avalanche of statistics and mundane quotes from conservative and government commentators.
So here it is, folks:
A third of the big corporations studied for the report paid NO income taxes in at least one of the last three tax years. None at all. Zip. Nada.
And this is while these same fat cat corporations were pulling in, collectively, $100 billion in profits. If you made $100 billion in wages, how much do you think the IRS would take out of your paycheck?
But, hold your hat. While making all this money, hand over fist, and paying no taxes on it, these same corporate privateers got handed "tax rebate" checks totaling $12.6 billion. Huh? The government pays you money, because your tax rate -- 00.00% -- is too high? Where do I apply for my tax rebate?
One of the biggest companies on the dole is General Electric, which topped the list with $9.5 billion in corporate welfare over the last three years. This while making nearly $37 billion in profits. General Electric is a big defense contractor, and owns NBC.
Another corporate privateer of note is the Walt Disney Company, a California-based conglomerate which, among other things, owns ABC, as well as local blab-radio stations KGO and KSFO. They paid zip in taxes last year, despite pulling down $1.7 billion in profits.
It seems that the corporate media like to hang together.
And then there is our own local bank, Wells Fargo, which got $2.5 billion in tax breaks over the last three years, and our formerly-local bank, Bank of America, which got nearly $3 billion in corporate welfare during the same period. You know the old saying, it takes money to make money.
Marriott International, owners of the San Francisco Marriott near the Moscone Convention Center, also paid no income taxes last year, despite making $384 million in profits. The Marriott only recently signed a contract with UNITE HERE Local 2 on behalf of its hotel staff, after a struggle that spanned two decades.
Even as Citizens for Tax Justice was releasing its report, the California Budget Project released their own report showing that nearly two-thirds of California corporations pay no more than $800 a year in state income tax. I'll bet the shirt off my back that most of you who are reading this article pay more than that piddling amount.
You did see all of this in the Chronicle, didn't you?
Citizens for Tax Justice can be reached at www.ctj.org.
The California Budget Project can be reached at www.cbp.org.