logo

Get the best of Commons Magazine — FREE!

The Real Cause of High Budget Deficits: Corporate Tax Dodgers

Following the lead of successful UK actions, protests take aim at those who won't pay their fair share

The protests in Wisconsin over workers’ rights and state budget cuts are sparking national action. While not every governor will recklessly attack collective bargaining, all states are facing major budget constraints.


Now is the strategic moment to dramatically juxtapose the pain of local budget cuts with the scandal of corporate tax dodging. While states must close combined budget gaps of over $102 billion, U.S.-based corporate tax dodgers are costing us over $100 billion a year. Every time a politician complains that “there is no money” or “we must make these cuts,” we should be pointing to the corporate tax dodging that could immediately close our budget gaps.


This April 15th Tax Day, let’s make our national focus be on and closing corporate tax loopholes and ending abuse of tax havens.


In England, the movement UK Uncut has galvanized street protests, media investigations and legislative action by calling attention to how billions in tax revenues are lost to overseas tax havens and corporate loopholes, thereby causing wrenching national and local budget cuts.


The first step to this kind of action began with the formation of US uncut and other groups are organizing a day of action in 20 states.


Many US companies use our shared infrastructure, but don’t pay their fair share. They benefit from taxpayer-funded roads, national defense, emergency services, and federal research grants. They are profitable but don’t pay their full freight. They undercut local businesses that pay their taxes while struggling to compete on an unlevel playing field.


“There’s a direct connection between corporate tax dodging and what’s happening in people’s lives,” says Carl Gibson one of the founders of US Uncut Mississippi . “If we close those loopholes, we wouldn’t have to be cutting back on firefighters, library hours and student loans.”


Gibson started a web site after being inspired by the movements in England. “I work three jobs and can barely cover my $450 per-month rent,” said the 23-year old Gibson. “But I still pay my taxes. All I’m asking is that the wealthiest corporations pay what they owe, too.”


This new movement needs to name names and show up at the tax dodgers’ businesses. Our message: Pay Up!
First there are the banks that wrecked our economy and accepted billions in taxpayer funded TARP funds while dishing out gigantic bonuses to top management. These include Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America.


Bank of America has launched a glitzy PR campaign about how charitable and community-minded they are. But we should remind them the only way back into our good graces is to “Pay up!”


Then there are the tax dodgers in many other fields. General Electric, Carnival Cruise lines, Boeing, FedEx, News Corp, ExxonMobil, Pfizer, Proctor and Gamble. They pretend their profits are earned in tax havens like the Grand Cayman Islands and their losses are earned in the U.S., lowering their tax bills. Pay Up!


The Tax Justice Network and Business and Investors Against Tax Havens have been pressing over the last year to keep these issues in the public spotlight. With US UNCUT teaming up with the Other 98 and other coalitions focused on corporate tax dodging, we can anticipate a lively April 15th Tax Day.