Wouldn’t YOU Love To Have Paid Zero Tax This Year?
Can you and I avoid our tax bills each year? Of course not. (Just try it, and see what happens!). So why should highly-profitable companies avoid paying tax altogether? A new report shows that, appallingly, several of the biggest polluters paid zero tax last year. Why? (And how?).
The new report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, or ITEP (a nonpartisan think tank) gives us the first look at the effect of the 2017 Trump tax cuts, which slashed the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. But that’s still too much for some companies.
Take Chevron for example. Part of BigOil, Chevron makes its money from fossil fuels, which pollute our air and water, harm people and animals, and cause the climate crisis we now face.
Last year, Chevron made $4.5 billion in profits. If it had paid the (newly reduced) corporate tax rate of 21 percent, it would have paid $955 million in taxes.
The government could have done a lot with $955 million in taxes. But what happened? The government PAID Chevron $181 million at tax time. Mostly due to tax breaks and subsidies.
60 large corporations paid zero tax last year, and the report says that almost half of them were oil and gas companies, or power utilities. Some of the well-known names on the list include Kinder Morgan, Occidental Petroleum, and Halliburton.
ITEP calculated that oil and gas companies avoided paying $27 billion in taxes from 2008 through 2015, while power utilities evaded $86 billion.
Imagine what the government could do with $113 billion! Health care, poverty alleviation, road and rail improvements, protection from rising sea levels, (add your own)….
Are Tax Breaks All Bad?
Of course, not all tax breaks are bad. They can be used to help start up new industries — like the renewable energy industry.
The problem is that many of these subsidies outlive their usefulness.
The oil industry needed tax breaks for the original R&D to develop the industry when it was new. Now, the industry is hugely profitable – why should it still get tax breaks? Tax breaks that sometimes result in paying zero tax. Nada. Nothing. Tax free. That’s simply not right.
And What About the Climate Crisis?
Every country in the world is facing a climate crisis. It’s going to be expensive to survive. It costs a lot to build sea walls, cure disease outbreaks, and rebuild after floods. It takes money to invent better batteries, create carbon sinks, and replace polluting power plants with clean energy.
(Of course, it will cost a lot, lot more if we DON’T act).
So why aren’t the big polluters paying for the damage they’ve caused?
After all, the BigOil companies knew about climate change, and they knew they were responsible – but they still carried on extracting and profiting from fossil fuels.
Should BigOil not AT LEAST pay the newly reduced tax rate?
(I believe they should be paying for the damage they’ve caused as well, but that’s another story). They should at least be paying (the now-reduced) tax. Of course, corporations pay professionals to reduce their tax bill – buy why should the US government collude with them by not only requiring them to pay no tax, but actively paying them on tax day? It’s appalling.
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