Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Congressional House Leader John Boehner(R-OH) Is Hoping The Middle-Class Cannot Do Tax Math

Congressional House Leader John Boehner(R-OH) Is Hoping The Middle-Class Cannot Do Tax Math

Countering President Obama’s plan to avert the fiscal cliff released last week, House Republicans unveiled their own plan this afternoon that is presented as a major gesture of compromise as it finally puts tax revenues on paper and with House Republicans’ endorsement.

The big question, of course, on the fiscal cliff negotiations is what happens to tax rates for the wealthiest Americans — Democrats want them to go up, Republicans want them to stay the same. Realizing that they have to offer some kind of revenue increases, Republicans have been searching for a way to do that that doesn’t actually raise tax rates and thus violate Grover Norquist’s pledge. Boehner did that today in his proposal, which keeps revenues where they are today (by extending the Bush tax cuts on the top 2 percent of Americans), but calls for the elimination of tax deductions.

Boehner does this by leaning on the Simpson-Bowles plan, which, in case you haven’t been watching “Morning Joe” or reading David Brooks, was put forward in 2010 by a deficit-reduction commission convened by President Obama and co-chaired by former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson and former Clinton Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles.

Setting a target of $800 billion in new revenue, Boehner writes in his letter to Obama, “Notably, the new revenue in the Bowles plan would not be achieved through higher tax rates, which we continue to oppose and will not agree to in order to protect small businesses and our economy.”

Boehner has one key thing very wrong, though, as others have already noted. While the entire purpose of Boehner’s tax plan is to preserve the tax breaks for the top 2 percent, the Simpson-Bowles plan begins by allowing those rates to go up by assuming the expiration of all the Bush tax cuts. It then eliminates deductions and uses the money saved to reduce all tax rates a bit. Boehner’s plan does the opposite: It assumes the extension of the Bush tax cuts and then tries to find ways to pay for them by eliminating deductions.

The problem with this approach is that it’s basically impossible to raise any significant amounts of money without hitting the middle or lower class. Capping deductions gets you closest to that goal, as the wealthy are the most likely to take advantage of deductions, but it still doesn’t quite add up.

A $50,000 deduction cap would yield about $760 billion, just shy of what Boehner is aiming for. That cap would mostly impact the rich, according to the Tax Policy Center, but not entirely. At least 4 percent percent of the increased tax burden would fall on the lower 80 percent of Americans.

That might not seem like much, but think about that this means. Essentially, Republicans are proposing a way to preserve tax cuts for the wealthy by likely increasing taxes on the middle class, even if just a little.

So conservatives do not mind raising taxes as long as they are raising taxes on sales clerks, teachers and truck drivers. Boehner seems to think Republican leadership is a contest with Paul Ryan (R-WI) to see who can be the best at pretending to be a wonk who understands numbers. His offer is a joke, What's Wrong With the Republican Fiscal Cliff Counteroffer.

Rupert Murdoch's Wacky Anti-American Fox News Pushes Conspiracy Theory That DOJ Wants To Release Gitmo Terrorists Onto U.S. Streets

Sunday, December 2, 2012

America Panders to The Plutocrats: Apple, Google, Microsoft Avoid Taxes By Keeping Billions In Profits Offshore

America Panders to The Plutocrats: Apple, Google, Microsoft Avoid Taxes By Keeping Billions In Profits Offshore

The Microsoft logo. Microsoft and other companies have been accused of using complicated schemes to avoid paying taxes.

American multinational corporations have something in common with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, aside from being people, too: They both keep a lot of their income overseas to cut their tax bills.

Companies such as Microsoft and Apple quietly dodge billions of dollars in taxes each year with potentially illegal schemes to move their profits offshore, according to a Senate subcommittee report released on Thursday.

"Some multinationals use our current tax system to engage in gimmicks to avoid paying taxes they owe," Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee On Investigations, said in a hearing on Thursday. Levin described "a system used to shift billions of dollars of profit offshore and avoid billions in taxes."

Microsoft, Apple, Google and Hewlett-Packard were among the companies Levin singled out for criticism over their tax-avoidance practices, but they are not alone. Most multinational companies pay a tax rate well below the 35 percent rate mandated by law. Some avoid paying taxes altogether, or even get the government to pay them money. These loopholes cost the U.S. government billions of dollars in revenue that could be used to help close the budget deficit.

Using complex schemes to shift U.S. revenue overseas, Microsoft was able to avoid paying taxes on $21 billion in revenue between 2009 and 2011, amounting to about half its total U.S. sales, according to the subcommittee report. The company avoided paying $4.5 billion in taxes, or about $4 million per day, during that time, according to the report.

Using similar schemes, Levin said, Apple avoided taxes on $34.5 billion between 2009 and 2011, and Google has dodged taxes on $24 billion.

Hewlett-Packard, meanwhile, used a series of constantly revolving short-term loans between itself and its subsidiaries that have helped it avoid paying billions of dollars in taxes since at least 2008, according to Levin. Though he didn't say how much money H-P has avoided paying, Levin did say that H-P has kept billions of dollars in cash offshore -- more than $17 billion in 2010, for example -- that it would then "lend" to its U.S. parent company in a steady stream.

"HP has complied fully with all applicable provisions of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code and auditor Ernst & Young has consistently reviewed and approved the accuracy of HP’s financials," Hewlett-Packard responded in a statement emailed to the Huffington Post. "HP has always had an extremely productive and professional relationship with the IRS, who has permanent offices at two of our facilities and has been continually auditing HP since the filing of our 1962 tax return. They have never raised any concerns about these programs. We are disappointed to see what appears to be a politically motivated attack on one of America’s largest employers.”

Apple and Google did not immediately return requests for comment. A Microsoft representative was scheduled to address the subcommittee later on Thursday.

"In conducting our business at home and abroad, we abide by U.S. and foreign tax laws," Microsoft said in a statement emailed to the Huffington Post. "That is not to say that the rules cannot be improved -- to the contrary, we believe they can and should be. U.S. international tax rules are outdated and not competitive with the tax systems of our major trading partners."

The ranking Republican on the subcommittee, Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), defended the companies, saying they were following the letter of the law to avoid what he called onerous tax rates and an overly complex tax code.

"This is perfectly legal tax avoidance," Coburn said, arguing that the 35 percent corporate tax rate mandated by law is twice that of the average rate around the world. "They take advantage of every loophole we have created in the tax system. There is nothing heinous in that. Nothing illegal in that."

Levin responded that he wasn't sure, but it seemed "highly dubious" that Hewlett-Packard's revolving loan program, for example, "complies with current tax law." He also blamed the IRS for lax enforcement of that law.

Just because something is legal does not mean it is ethical. All of these companies depend on U.S. infrastructure and the U.S. military to create a safe and economically advanced country that makes it possible for these companies to even exist.

Freaky conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer has accused Amb. Susan Rice of totally unfounded misdeeds, FLASHBACK: When Krauthammer Excused Condi Rice For Pushing "Defective" Iraq War Intelligence

The Republican Speaker of the House is clueless, John Boehner(R-OH): No ‘Difference’ If Revenue Comes From Middle Class Or Super Rich