Matt Taibbi: Corporate Tax Holiday Gaining Bipartisan Support
Keith Olbermann talked to Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi about another really horrible idea that's apparently gaining bipartisan support with our politicians -- another one of these repatriation tax holidays where corporations are rewarded for offshoring their profits by being allowed to bring them back to America for rates as low as just over 5%.
As Matt pointed out here, this does nothing to create jobs as we saw from the last time they did this. They just pocketed their money and laid off their workers anyway. And it's counterproductive because allowing this to go on just encourages more of it. If they actually tied this to job creation, in the United States, and penalized them if they did not use the money to hire Americans, I might be able go get on board for them having their rates lowered to some extent, but I suspect the chances of that happening are somewhere between slim and none.
As Keith noted, maybe everyone should ask our members of Congress to read Matt's articles on the topic at Rolling Stone. They're going to be taking the next month off campaigning and fundraising, so I'm sure there will be plenty of time for their constituents to ask them about this at their town hall meetings.
Here's the latest from Matt at Rolling Stone -- Evil Corporate Tax Holiday Gains Bipartisan Support:
The madness that is the proposed tax repatriation holiday is continuing and gathering steam. More and more members of congress are coming out of the woodwork, scratching their chins in contemplative consideration as it were, pretending that they’ve just realized what a great day a corporate tax holiday would be – not that they’ve taken gazillions of dollars from the firms lobbying for it or anything.
The latest convert seems to be Nevada Democrat Shelley Berkley. Berkley’s plan is to offer a pseudo-holiday – not the full-fledged happy-ending massage the companies wanted (i.e. a reduction from 35 percent+ to 5.25 percent) but a mere ten-point shave... Read on...
Have been meaning to write about this, but I’m increasingly amazed at the overall lack of an uproar about the possibility of the government approving another corporate tax repatriation holiday.
I’ve been in and out of DC a few times in recent weeks and one thing I keep hearing is that there is a growing, and real, possibility that a second “one-time tax holiday” will be approved for corporations as part of whatever sordid deal emerges from the debt-ceiling negotiations.
I passed it off as a bad joke when I first saw news of this a few weeks ago, when it was reported that Wall Street whipping boy Chuck Schumer was seriously considering the idea. Then I read later on that other Senators were jumping on the bandwagon, including North Carolina’s Kay Hagan.
This is what Hagan’s spokesperson said:
Senator Hagan is looking closely at any creative, short-term measures that can get bipartisan support and put people back to work. One such potential initiative is a well-crafted and temporary change to the tax code that encourages American companies to bring money home and put it towards capital, investment, and–most importantly–American jobs.
For those who don’t know about it, tax repatriation is one of the all-time long cons and also one of the most supremely evil achievements of the Washington lobbying community, which has perhaps told more shameless lies about this one topic than about any other in modern history – which is saying a lot, considering the many absurd things that are said and done by lobbyists in our nation’s capital.
Here’s how it works: the tax laws say that companies can avoid paying taxes as long as they keep their profits overseas. Whenever that money comes back to the U.S., the companies have to pay taxes on it.
Think of it as a gigantic global IRA. Companies that put their profits in the offshore IRA can leave them there indefinitely with no tax consequence. Then, when they cash out, they pay the tax.
Only there’s a catch. In 2004, the corporate lobby got together and major employers like Cisco and Apple and GE begged congress to give them a “one-time” tax holiday, arguing that they would use the savings to create jobs. Congress, shamefully, relented, and a tax holiday was declared. Now companies paid about 5 percent in taxes, instead of 35-40 percent.
Money streamed back into America. But the companies did not use the savings to create jobs. Instead, they mostly just turned it into executive bonuses and ate the extra cash. Some of those companies promising waves of new hires have already committed to massive layoffs..
It was bad enough when lobbyists managed to pull this trick off once, in 2004. But in one of the worst-kept secrets in Washington, companies immediately started to systematically “offshore” their profits right after the 2004 holiday with the expectation that somewhere down the road, and probably sooner rather than later, they would get another holiday.
Companies used dozens of fiendish methods to keep profits overseas, including such scams as “transfer pricing,” a technique in which profits are shifted to overseas subsidiaries. A typical example might involve a pharmaceutical company that licenses the rights or the patent to one of its more successful drugs to a foreign affiliate, which in turn manufactures the product and sells it back to the U.S. branch, thereby shifting the profits overseas.
Companies have been doing this for years, to incredible effect. Bloomberg’s Jesse Drucker estimated that Google all by itself has saved $3.1 billion in taxes in the past three years by shifting its profits overseas. Add that to the already rampant system of loopholes and what you have is a completely broken corporate tax system.
And the whole thing is predicated on that dirty little secret – the notion, long known to all would-be major corporate taxpayers, that there would come a day when there would be another tax holiday.
That time, they hope, is now. According to Drucker, lobbyists met with President Obama last December to ask for another holiday. And now the drumbeats are rolling on the Hill for a new holiday to be included in the debt-ceiling deal. Read on...
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