We Need to Start Holding Tax-Dodging Banksters Accountable

(Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout)(Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout)Tax-dodging big banks and giant corporations are finally being held accountable…except for here in the United States.

Yesterday, UK Chancellor George Osborne announced a new crackdown in his country on big banks that get massive tax breaks, and on giant corporations that avoid paying their fair share in taxes.

Under Osborne’s proposed plan, big banks will pay an extra 4 billion pounds (about $6.27 billion), while giant corporations that avoid taxes by shifting their profits overseas will pay a 25 percent tax.

Speaking about the move, Osborne said that,

“Under the rules we inherited banks can offset all their losses from the financial crisis against tax on profits for years to come. Some banks wouldn’t be paying tax for 15 or 20 years. That’s totally unacceptable. The banks got public support in the crisis and they should now support the public in the recovery.”

He added that,

“Some of the largest companies in the world, including those in the tech sector, use elaborate structures to avoid paying taxes. Today I am introducing a 25% tax on profits generated by multinationals from economic activity here in the UK which they then artificially shift out of the country.”

Giant corporations like Apple and Google have come under fire in both the UK and the US recently for raking in massive profits, while shifting those profits overseas to avoid taxes.

See more news and opinion from Thom Hartmann at Truthout here.

A report by the UK’s Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that Apple, Microsoft, Google and Cisco Systems collectively earn interest while avoiding taxes on over $124 billion that’s held overseas.

Clearly, the UK government has recognized that corporate tax avoidance by big banks and giant transnational corporations is a major problem, and it’s doing something about it.

So, why can’t lawmakers right here in the US do the same thing?

According to Demos, over the last decade, corporate tax avoidance has cost the US government over $3.09 trillion.

That’s a staggering amount of money.

So, who are some of the biggest corporate tax avoiders in the US?

Well, first off there’s General Electric.

In 2012 alone, General Electric kept $108 billion in offshore tax havens so it could avoid paying taxes on it.

If it wasn’t allowed to do that, that giant corporation would have paid around $37.8 billion in taxes that would have gone toward restoring our nation’s infrastructure.

Next, there’s Verizon.

In 2012, Verizon hid $1.8 billion in offshore tax havens, and avoided paying around $630 million in taxes. That’s $630 million that could have gone right back into our economy.

Finally, there’s the big bank Citigroup.

In 2012, Citigroup stashed a staggering $42.6 billion in offshore tax havens. If it hadn’t done that, and had paid taxes instead, there would have been an additional $11.5 billion put back into our economy.

The bottom line here is that because the Supreme Court has legalized the purchase of lawmakers in Washington by corporate lobbyists and Wall Street hustlers, our economy is losing billions and billions of dollars each year to corporate tax avoidance.

Just think about all the things we could fund if we made corporations and big banks pay their fair share.

For example, according to data from the Department of Education, total tuition costs at public colleges across the US were $62.6 billion in 2012.

If we stopped letting corporations dodge taxes, we could use that money to make public college tuition free in the US.

For too long, we’ve let big banks and giant corporations skate on the backs of working-class Americans, and even rewarded them for it.

Americans – wake up! With the Republican takeover of Congress, we now really and truly have the best Congress money can buy. Go to movetoamend.org to do something about it.