Saturday, June 04, 2011

More on Corporations and Taxes

Yesterday's post on the decline in federal revenue from corporations received some standard conservative talking points in the comments section, which we should clean up.
  • "The U.S. has the world's highest corporate tax rate."
Actually it's only the second highest, after Japan. But anyway, this is the nominal rate, at 39.2% (for the highest earners). Of course, no corporation pays the nominal rate. The effective rate averages 27.7% (LA Times, 6/3/11), lower than many other OECD nations. And, of course, some of the largest corporations pay no US taxes at all.
  • "What effect do you think this has on our job creation rate?"
Corporations are sitting on records amount of cash--about $2 trillion. Yet they're not now creating jobs. How, then, will giving them even more cash create jobs? It won't, because the problem with the economy is one of demand, not supply. People don't have money to spend, after the debt crisis, after the high unemployment, and after decades of stagnant wages.
  • "Corporations don't pay taxes, shareholders and employees do" [or pass them on to customers]
What's wrong with that? Shareholders should pay taxes. By incorporating, individuals get something very valuable: limited liability. (Not to mention all the valuable services they get from government, unless they'd prefer to set up their own hoses when their office building catches on fire). That's worth something, and so they should pay something.

There are many things a company can do other than pass increased taxes onto consumers. Foremost would be to reduce their massive cash positions, which many oil companies are currently using to buy back their stock, thus raising their stock price and so benefiting (among others) large stock holders like those in executive and director positions.

Likewise they can reduce their dividend payments, which also go primarily to the affluent and wealthy.

They can reduce executive compensation, reduce employee salaries and benefits, work harder with less, and eliminate waste, fraud and abuse.

Companies that do all these things will not have to pass increased costs onto consumers, and will be rewarded by having lower prices that in turn attract more customers. That's capitalism, right?


charlesH said...

Top 10% of wage earners pay 70% of all income taxes.

Top 50% of wage earners pay 97% of all income taxes.

Thank goodness someone is making a lot of money to pay those taxes.

Those of us who aren't currently paying a lot of income taxes should be thankful for those that are.

Yes but those who don't pay income taxes still pay SS and Medicare taxes? Those who pay no income taxes are getting far more back from SS and Medicare than they ever paid or will pay in taxes.

Richard Mercer said...

Those with high incomes only pay social security on the first $100,000 they make. If they paid on their total income, there would be no problem with social security running out of money, ever.

The top 10% own more than 70% of all wealth.

Warren Buffet has commented that he pays a lower tax rate than his cleaning lady does. Not just a little, but about half the rate.

I forget where I found this joke, but will repeat it here.

A Rich Capitalist, a Tea Party Member, and Union Member sit around the table. At the center of the table sits a plate with a dozen cookies.

The Rich Capitalist takes eleven cookies, then whispers to the Tea Party Member, "Watch out for that union guy. He's got his eye on your cookie."

Hey, sounds like a tea party.

The original Boston Tea Pary was a protest against the large multinational corporation, The East India Tea Company, and the preferential treatment it enjoyed from the British government.

If they are the inspiration for the Tea Party, something is terribly wrong.

Charles; If there is such a tax burden on the rich, why the growing wealth disparity, as in my earlier comment?

The tax rate for the rich was much higher in the past. And that was when the middle class grew, the wealth gap narrowed, and the economy hummed, while the rich did just fine thank you.

Richard Mercer said...

"Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration."

Abraham Lincoln

"One of the chief factors in progress is the destruction of special privilege. The essence of any struggle for healthy liberty has always been, and must always be, to take from some one man or class of men the right to enjoy power, or wealth, or position, or immunity, which has not been earned by service to his or their fellows. That is what you fought for in the Civil War, and that is what we strive for now. "

"At many stages in the advance of humanity, this conflict between the men who possess more than they have earned and the men who have earned more than they possess is the central condition of progress. In our day it appears as the struggle of freemen to gain and hold the right of self-government as against the special interests, who twist the methods of free government into machinery for defeating the popular will. At every stage, and under all circumstances, the essence of the struggle is to equalize opportunity, destroy privilege, and give to the life and citizenship of every individual the highest possible value both to himself and to the commonwealth."

"Now, this means that our government, National and State, must be freed from the sinister influence or control of special interests. Exactly as the special interests of cotton and slavery threatened our political integrity before the Civil War, so now the great special business interests too often control and corrupt the men and methods of government for their own profit."

"We must drive the special interests out of politics. That is one of our tasks to-day. Every special interest is entitled to justice-full, fair, and complete-and, now, mind you, if there were any attempt by mob-violence to plunder and work harm to the special interest, whatever it may be, that I most dislike, and the wealthy man, whomsoever he may be, for whom I have the greatest contempt, I would fight for him, and you would if you were worth your salt. He should have justice. For every special interest is entitled to justice, but not one is entitled to a vote in Congress, to a voice on the bench, or to representation in any public office. The Constitution guarantees protection to property, and we must make that promise good. But it does NOT GIVE THE RIGHT OF SUFFRAGE TO ANY CORPORATION." (my emphasis)

"The true friend of property, the true conservative, is he who insists that property shall be the servant and not the master of the commonwealth; who insists that the creature of man’s making shall be the servant and not the master of the man who made it. The citizens of the United States must effectively control the mighty commercial forces which they have called into being."

Teddy Roosevelt

Richard Mercer said...

Inflation adjusted pay
From 1990 to 2005

CEO pay rose 298%
Production workers pay rose 4.3%
Federal minimum wage was down 9.3%

In 1962, the wealthiest 1% of households averaged 125 times the
wealth of the median household.

In 2004, the top 1% averaged 190 times the wealth of the median household.

Percent of total wealth held by various wealth groups in 2004
top 1% - 33.4%
top 5% - 57.5%
top 10% - 69.5%
bottom 50% -- 2.5%

Richard Mercer said...

As you can see, those taxes are really killing the rich

Dano said...

Those of us who aren't currently paying a lot of income taxes should be thankful for those that are.

That's because they're making all the money.

But they aren't taxed any higher than the middle class, which is a false talking point.



charlesH said...

In a market economy high earners make a lot of money because they have better ideas, skills, work harder, etc. than the rest of us. We all benefit from the productivity of high earners.

There are some cases of "crony" capitalism where wealth is created because of government favors. This I abhor (e.g. many on wall street the last few years, UAW, etc).

On the other hand the guys at Google deserve every dollar they have made. They truly built a better mousetrap.

The door is wide open for anyone to work harder, work smarter, or out idea Google.

So get out of the wagon and start pushing. If you insist on sitting in the wagon then stop complaining. At least you weren't born in Africa, India, or China.

charlesH said...

For those of you who are fine with the top 50% of earners paying 97% of the income taxes based on "fairness" ....

How do you feel about expanding the "fairness" test beyond our US borders to world borders? Let's have all US workers pay higher taxes to support workers in India, China and Africa.

High US worker $300,000/yr
Low US worker $30,000/yr
3rd World $3,000/yr

What total percent should each worker pay in world income taxes to be "fair"?

high US 40% $120,000
low US 20% $6,000
3rd W 10% $300


Dano said...

Charles, you should take your debunked talking points and leave the country, what with all this theft going on. You are obviously outraged that wealth isn't being redistributed upward fast enough. Poor baby.