When you do, here’s what happens.
The link will take you a NYTimes.com article (I’m going to miss the Grey Lady) about GE. GE didn’t pay any U.S. taxes last year; indeed, it got a bit over $3 billion back from the Feds for 2010.
Here’s the part that struck me: “Over the last decade, G.E. has spent tens of millions of dollars to push for changes in tax law….[T]he most lucrative of these measures allows G.E. to operate a vast leasing and lending business abroad with profits that face little foreign taxes and no American taxes as long as the money remains overseas.”
U.S. tax structure causes G.E., and certainly other foreign and multi-national companies, to invest overseas, employee people overseas and keep the money from the investments and work overseas. Capital investment and jobs that could be here aren’t because we see corporations as marks. Bastards you say?
“’G.E. is committed to acting with integrity in relation to our tax obligations,’ said Anne Eisele, a spokeswoman. ‘We are committed to complying with tax rules and paying all legally obliged taxes. At the same time, we have a responsibility to our shareholders to legally minimize our costs.’”
She’s right about that boldfaced statement. Despite what the Supreme Court says in Citizens United about corporations, they, unlike Soylent Green, aren’t people. Corporations are legal fictions that make raising capital easier and less risky for their owners, people – the shareholders. The managers are charged with maximizing profit. If staying out of the U.S. is the “price” of profit, so be it.
What would happen if we started treating corporations as what they are, not people? Well, we of course wouldn’t tax them; but, they aren’t paying much in the way of taxes now are they?* We would be giving them an incentive to stay at home with their capital and jobs. Guess what that means? They are buying more American goods and employing more American people. American goods mean American companies that make a profit for their shareholders, people, Americans who pay taxes. And those American workers not in the leisure classes pay taxes too. And invest in 401(k)’s and SEPs which invest in corporations’ stocks – profits for corporations mean retirement for people.
Instead of no taxes and capital and jobs overseas, you have capital, jobs and taxes here in the good old U.S.A.
*And though I’ve said it before here, probably too many times, corporations don’t pay taxes. (I’m in a boldfacey kind of mood today.) They tack the cost of taxes on to the price they charge people, and then pass it on to the government. You pay the taxes that corporations remit to the government.