There are some who think that America’s federal tax rate is so onerous it has to be lowered or corporations will simply not invest here. The fact that you can do business cheaper in Third World countries because their standard of living sucks as much as their pay is never mentioned as a possible reason. No, it’s our darn excessive tax rate.
Given that last year GE realized a profit of $15 billion worldwide, $5 billion of which was generated in America, and paid zero in federal taxes, that argument is starting to sound a bit weak. By my calculation, that works out to a tax rate of zero. Any lower and we’d be encouraging corporate socialism by paying them to invest here.
April is that time of the year when all non-corporate citizens, and small corporate citizens who can’t afford to move offshore, make that walk of pain to the mailbox to pay the federal government for the privilege of living in America. Despite the grumbling, I suspect most of us view taxes the same way we view getting our teeth cleaned every six months – not something we look forward to; not something particularly pleasant; not something we would do voluntarily; but something, nonetheless, that is required to keep and maintain the country that has given us such a good life.
So we faithfully trudge to accountants or download software or sit with tax forms that were clearly written for beings from some other planet and do our annual duty. We may not agree with all the things the government does with our money but we generally agree we’d rather have this government and this life over any other. Well, maybe except for moving to Canada. Canada has always seemed to me to be a relatively stress free version of us – good decent people who don’t have to deal with being the world’s police force.
Getting back to the tax issue, though, I can’t help but wonder why GE doesn’t have to kick at least a few bucks into the pot. You know, a million here, a million there. Will that really harm their bottom line? Yes, I know they have teams of lawyers and accountants whose very jobs are dependent on being able to keep GE from paying us anything. And yes, I understand that every dollar we take from them is a dollar their top executives won’t have to pay for the mortgage on the house in Barbados or the yacht anchored off the Riviera. But we all have to make some sacrifices, don’t we?
I am well aware of the argument that they worked hard for their money and what right do we have to demand that they turn it over to the feds if they don’t have to. But then, shouldn’t that thinking also apply to me? I work hard for my money. Why should I pay it to a government that often does things with my money that I find reprehensible, like starting wars of choice or sending billions of dollars to dictators because they are “our” dictators so we sweep their human rights abuses under the proverbial rug?
No, I’m afraid I have to state unequivocally that if I’m expected to kick in some money to the running of our government, I feel GE should do no less. Again, I’m not asking for a lot here. It’s not like I expect them to singlehandedly pay to clean up pollution or combat the war on terrorism or drugs or whatever war we are blathering about this year. I’m just asking that they do their fair share. Because if they don’t, then the argument that we need to lower corporate taxes starts to take on the general smell and look of something that came out of the back end of a horse with a stomach problem after it’s sat out in tropical heat for a few days.
Before corporate America will convince me to lower its tax rate, it needs to at least pretend to placate me by paying some taxes. I’ll tell you what, just match what I paid this year. It’s less than you make in about 15 seconds but represents more than I make in two months
Do that and I’ll have a much better attitude about paying my share.