Riddle me this, Batman:
If it’s pointed out that a family of four making $40,000 a year pays no federal income taxes, many conservatives tend to get upset that the family isn’t paying their fair share like the rest of us.
On the other hand, if it’s pointed out that a multi-millionaire or billionaire pays no federal income tax, the reaction is to applaud his or her accountant for successfully cheating the government.
If a corporation is reported to have avoided paying corporate taxes, the reaction is again applause, under the thesis that corporations shouldn’t have to pay taxes anyway.
But if that corporation in question is General Electric, its ability to pay little or no taxes is cited as an outrageous scandal that must be addressed and investigated. (By the way, the company just announced a 77 percent increase in first quarter profits.)
And of course, as part of its demands to end the budget standoff earlier this month, the GOP demanded and got $600 million in cuts from the IRS budget. As John Berry in the Fiscal Times noted in March:
IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman told a House subcommittee last week that such a budget cut over just six months likely would reduce federal revenues by $4 billion. The IRS “would need to make substantial cuts to its enforcement programs,” he said.
In other words, cut spending by $600 million, lose $4 billion in revenue and add $3.4 billion to the deficit
Of course, that’s $3.4 billion in revenue over six months that the government is already owed, under existing tax law. The GOP is in effect protecting criminals, pulling cops off the beat to ensure that those breaking the law are not caught. And remember, the money not paid by scofflaws must be paid by somebody else. Back in 2001, the most recent year for which estimates are available, almost $300 billion in taxes owed went uncollected.
But again, if the people owing those taxes are poor or middle class, that is presumably a scandal. If the people owing those taxes are affluent business people, they are heroic Americans.
At least, if I understand these things correctly …
– Jay Bookman