Moral Low Ground


‘The Moral High Ground’: Senator Bernie Sanders Names & Shames America’s Top 10 Corporate Tax Dodgers

Naming and shaming…

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, America’s only more-or-less openly socialist lawmaker at the national level, has issued a press release in which he lists what he calls “the 10 worst corporate income tax avoiders.” The list was published on Mother Jones’ website; we’ve taken the liberty of summarizing it here.

Says Mother Jones:

Sanders, you’ll recall, made headlines for his epic 8.5-hour speech/filibuster this past December, dealing with how Obama’s pending tax-cut deal with the GOP would be bad for America. The speech—published this month as a paperback simply titled The Speech—was in vain: Congress passed the deal, extending tax breaks not merely to the poor and middle-class, but to America’s richest people.

It also slashed the estate tax from 55 percent to 35 percent and exempted the first $5 million of an estate’s value ($10 million for a couple)—up from $1 million pre-Bush. In his speech, Sanders warned against this change, noting, “Let us be very clear: This tax applies only—only—to the top three-tenths of 1 percent of American families; 99.7 percent of American families will not pay one nickel in an estate tax. This is not a tax on the rich, this is a tax on the very, very, very rich. (Click here for our blockbuster charts showing just how rich the very, very, very rich actually are.)

If the estate tax—which Republicans have cleverly rebranded the “death tax”—were to be eliminated entirely (another GOP goal), Sander says it would cost US taxpayers $1 trillion over 10 years. “Families such as the Walton family, of Walmart fame, would have received, just this one family, about a $30 billion tax break,” he said in the speech.

As one of few voices in Congress calling seriously for balance between cuts and new revenues, Sanders wants to close corporate tax loopholes and get rid of tax breaks for Big Oil. He’s put forth a bill that would impose a 5.4 percent surtax on household income north of $1 million, and earmark that money for deficit reduction. He estimates it would bring in $50 billion a year, whereas Congress’ recent tax-cut deal will add around $700 billion to the deficit.

Now here’s Sanders’ dubious “Top Ten” list:

#10- Carnival Cruise Lines: Made $11 billion in profits over the last five years, but its federal income tax rate during that period was 1.1%

#9- ConocoPhillips: $16 billion in profits from ’07-’09; received $451 million in tax breaks through dubious deductions.

#8- Citigroup: $4 billion in profits in 2010, paid no federal income tax AND received a $2.5 trillion bailout from the Federal Reserve and the US Treasury.

#7- Goldman Sachs: $2.3 billion profit in ’08; paid only 1.1% of its income in taxes AND received an $800 billion bailout.

#6- Valero Energy: $68 billion in sales last year; $157 million tax refund AND $134 million deduction.

#5- Boeing: received $30 billion Pentagon contract to build 179 airborne tankers; received $124 million IRS refund.

#4- Chevron: $10 billion in profits in ’09; $19 million refund last year.

#3- General Electric: $26 billion in profits over the last 5 years; received $4.1 billion refund from the IRS.

#2- Bank of America: $4.4 billion profit + trillion dollar bailout (that’s 1 with 12 zeros– $1,000,000,000,000); received $1.9 billion IRS refund.

#1- ExxonMobil: $19 billion profit in ’09; paid $0.00 in federal income tax AND received a $156 million IRS rebate.

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  1. David H.MortalAngelsFekayMarch 31, 2011 at 8:23 amReply

    As I read all these “American Companies” that paid no Income Tax and yet many
    received Millions and Billions from IRS and the Government, I am wondering who
    and what the Fight that is going on in Washington about Budgets and Lack of Income for our United States. What can be the problem? What can be done about
    this? Is anything going to be done about this? Is Bernie Sanders the only Lawmaker in Washington that is upset about this? Why not establish a Committee
    of Senators & Congressmen & Decent-No-Paid behind the Barn persons that meet in public to report action, etc.

    • Brett WilkinsMarch 31, 2011 at 10:12 amReplyAuthor

      Almost all US lawmakers are owned by the corporations, so Sanders might indeed be just about the only one who finds the current state of affairs appalling.

  2. Lee SilvanApril 6, 2011 at 8:55 amReply

    Why can’t people get it into their heads?

    IT IS TOO LATE! American democracy is an illusion for the naive!

    Even the Supreme Court is now in the pockets of the corporations.

    Get on with (what’s left of) your life people.

  3. LisaApril 8, 2011 at 11:06 amReply

    if you do a little research, you will find that most of these companies are not guilty of what Bernie Sanders says. And why anyone would listen to a self avowed socialist says is beyond me. I am not a socialist and don’t agree with most socialist policies or ideas. Get a clue folks, we are a capitalist nation and we make money. If these companies get LEGAL tax breaks or credits, do you really blame them for taking them? Don’t you take every deduction or credit you are entitled to on your tax return? Have you ever refused to take a credit because you want the IRS to have it?
    Be angry at the government for the tax code, not at companies that employ americans, pay for benefits and 401k plans, that give people the means to buy homes and cars and feed and clothe themselves and their children.

  4. DaveMay 13, 2011 at 9:01 amReply

    Lisa, i think you’re missing the point. The reason that these corporations get the legal tax breaks and legal credits that allow them to not pay taxes and actually get money back, is because they have paid the congressmen and senators to enact these laws that allow them to get away with it. Just the same way as the corporation are given tax breaks for sending jobs overseas where they can pay less for labor, it’s a rediculous law that the corporations paid for so they could have a win-win situation.

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