A story that received attention from some news organizations in the last few days was all about how General Electric Corporation paid zero income tax in the past year. It would be bad enough if this were an isolated instance and if most multi-billion dollar corporations in America paid their fair share of taxes. It is not an isolated instance.
Corporations such as Bank of America, Boeing, and Citigroup, to name just three, join the rolls of tax laggards. They, too, paid no taxes, in spite of the fact that they had record profits. And there are many, many others who take advantage of tax loopholes to reduce their tax liability to nothing.
That is the real scandal here. It is not that these corporations are necessarily doing anything illegal. I'm sure they have the very best legal and tax advice that money can buy and that those advisers have made sure that they remain within the letter of the law. The scandal is that there are so many loopholes written into the tax laws, often by legislators who are benefiting from campaign contributions from these corporations, that they are able to legally avoid paying taxes. Their actions may not be illegal, but they are most certainly immoral.
Many, in fact most, of these corporations receive subsidies and, in some cases in recent years, taxpayer bailouts to ensure their profitability or to keep them from failing. The average American taxpayer - that would be me - is being asked to support these gigantic corporations with our dollars, while they are doing absolutely nothing to support the infrastructure, social safety net, and defense of this country, all of which are paid for by taxes.
This is a situation that cries out for political courage from our elected representatives. It is the kind of thing that they should be working on instead of trying to repeal health care reform, Wall Street reform, and 30 years of progress in womens' rights. Unfortunately, these same corporations have bought and paid for a sizable number of our elected representatives, perhaps even a majority, and it appears that we, the average taxpayers, can expect no relief from them.
The only thing that these legislators fear more than losing the big bucks from the corporations is losing an election. An aroused and well-informed voting public could make that happen. There will be elections again in one year. Let us do what we can to be sure that the voting public is aroused and informed on this issue. It would be so exilarating to see average voters finally come together and vote in their own economic interests rather than simply succumbing to the scare tactics of slimy politicians. We might finally see true reform happen in our country - our country which needs that reform so badly.