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How Businesses Get Enriched by Taxes

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Posted on Sep 4, 2014

Photo by swanksalot (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Millions of tax-paying Americans pick up the check left by multinational corporations that escape their obligations while enjoying all the benefits of doing business in America—including tax credits of up to 33 cents for every dollar of profit—David Cay Johnston writes at Newsweek.

Moving their headquarters “on paper,” as Burger King did this summer, is “just one of several ways multinationals don’t pay their fair share, and they get away with it because the federal government encourages such behavior,” Johnston continues.

How can a tax burden become a boon? Simple. Congress lets multinationals earn profits today but pay their taxes by-and-by. In effect, Uncle Sam is loaning these companies all that money they do not immediately turn over as taxes. And all of these loans come with the same attractive interest rate: zero.

Imagine how your bank statement would look if, instead of having taxes taken out of your weekly paycheck, Congress let you keep that dough in return for your promise to pay your taxes years or decades from now—and sometimes, never.

That’s the extraordinary deal Congress gives many big American companies now sitting on hundreds of billions of dollars of what are, essentially, interest-free loans. Apple and GE owe at least $36 billion in taxes on profits being held tax-free offshore, Microsoft nearly $27 billion and Pfizer $24 billion, according to Citizens for Tax Justice, a nonprofit organization respected for the integrity of its numbers even by groups that dislike its progressive perspective.

Read more here.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly

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