In July 2021, the world witnessed Jeff Bezos’ ‘best day ever” as he travelled to space. It was not long after stepping out of his shuttle that the richest man in the world thanked all Amazon employees and customers, adding “because you guys paid for all of this”. The public outrage at this crass and true statement was huge and justified. Amazon is notorious for cutting workers out, be that of a collective say at work, of an employment contract or even of a toilet break. Work pressure is high, workers’ every move is monitored and any hint of discontent is met with fierce repression. What the world didn’t know at that time, was that Bezos forgot to thank another group that paid for this space walk: taxpayers.
New York City should count its blessings. Amazon’s decision to walk away from its plan to build a new headquarters in Queens stunned city and state officials, who had promised US$3 billion in incentives in exchange for some 25,000 jobs. They had never questioned whether the promised jobs and economic stimulus would actually appear. I have reviewed much evidence on the effectiveness of tax and other incentives. My conclusion: Incentives just don’t work.
Amazon announced Thursday the company has canceled its bid to acquire nearly $3 billion in public dollars to locate a facility in New York City—the most substantial setback for corporate welfare in recent memory. Significantly, Amazon states in its announcement of the decision that it will continue to expand its workforce in the New York City area, up from the 5,000 workers the company already employs in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Staten Island. In other words, Amazon still plans to maintain a headquarters-sized presence in New York, the nation’s financial and economic hub. It just couldn’t win the political battle to obtain billions of dollars in subsidies from it.
The state of Indiana — and, to a smaller extent, Kentucky and Illinois — are still on the hook for millions of dollars to clean up more than 85 contaminated sites across the three states from the Pence family gas stations, including underground tanks that leaked toxic chemicals into soil, streams and wells. Indiana alone has spent at least $21 million on the cleanup thus far, or an average of about $500,000 per site, according to an analysis of records by The Associated Press. And the work is nowhere near complete. The federal government, meanwhile, plans to clean up a plume of cancer-causing solvent discovered beneath a former Kiel Bros. station that threatens drinking water near the Pence family’s hometown.
As tax day looms, most of us are grumbling and griping about the joyless task of shelling out hard-earned wages to the Empire. Regardless of political perspective, the people are overwhelmingly aware of the fact that whatever taxes they’re paying out, they’re not getting a lot back. In theory, I support taxation. The basic idea being that when people live in a community that requires upkeep and services, the people of that community should all pitch in to make sure those services are of good quality, readily available and reliable. We want good schools, public libraries, healthcare, road maintenance, etc. In other words, we want our family and our neighbor’s families to have what they need to not only survive but to thrive. The problem with our system is that unless your neighbor is one of the Forbes 400 or an F-35, your tax dollars aren’t going to support your neighbors.
On Resistance Report, we interview Bruce Gagnon, who was on his 33rd day of a hunger strike against a massive tax give-way to one of the largest military contractors in the country. General Dynamics, which owns Bath Iron Works in Maine, is seeking massive corporate welfare from the state even though the company is highly profitable. The tax give-away was initially $60 million over 20 years, but it has been reduced to $45 million over 15 years. Gagnon and his allies in Maine are seeking for it to be reduced to zero.
According to a new study by a small, partly industry-funded think tank called the Center for Integration of Science and Industry (CISI), it is existentially important. No NIH funds, no new drugs, no patents, no profits, no industry. The CISI study, underwritten by the National Biomedical Research Foundation, mapped the relationship between NIH-funded research and every new drug approved by the FDA between 2010 and 2016. The authors found that each of the 210 medicines approved for market came out of research supported by the NIH. Of the $100 billion it spent nationally during this period, more than half of it—$64 billion—ended up helping the development of 84 first-in-class drugs.
By Paul Buchheit for Buzz Flash - Housing: Start with the homes, the expensive homes, the estates. For the mortgage interest deduction alone, households earning over $100,000 in 2012 claimed 77.3 percent of the total tax savings. For many of these well-positioned Americans, there are second homes with another mortgage deduction. Then, piling on, those with expensive homes can take a tax break of UP TO A HALF-MILLION DOLLARS when they sell their homes. Relatively few tax breaks go to low-income Americans. The total of mortgage and property tax subsidies is nearly DOUBLE the amount spent on public housing programs. Social Security: As noted, wealthy people are cashing in because of their longer lives. But there are more reasons for their late-life benefits. Lower-income earners are subsidizing the 10% of Americans who stop paying for Social Security when they reach the $127,200 income limit. Also subsidizing the rich are the unauthorized immigrants who pay for Social Security but are ineligible for benefits. Savings: A wealthy household can make millions in capital gains and pay NO TAX as long as investments are held, and then bequeath the estate to heirs with LITTLE OR NO TAX. Less fortunate Americans who have to rely on bank accounts get virtually no interest -- and the majority of overdraft fees.
By Jon Campbell for Democrat and Chronicle - ALBANY - A state-approved bailout of three upstate nuclear power plants was the focus of a legislative hearing Monday, but New York's top energy officials declined to attend. The state Assembly held a hearing Monday on the state's "zero-emissions credit" plan, which kicks in on April 1 and will require ratepayers across the state to pay several billion dollars over 12 years to keep open the three aging plants, including the R.E. Ginna Nuclear Power Plant near Rochester. The hearing, however, was absent the key decision-makers in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration who were behind the initiative.
By Staff of Popular Resistance - There's a reason we ended up with ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State and we ALMOST ended up with a Labor Secretary in Andy Puzder who prefers robots to humans. The answer is simple: We, the taxpayer, have always subsidized the costs of corporations to slowly kill us while making the pockets of corporate CEOs fatter. A closer look at fast food production in this country shows exactly that. Animal agriculture industries, such as factory farming, that contribute to us eating those artery clogging cheeseburgers come at the added expense of increased water and air pollution. We are paying the price for this environmental destruction literally and figuratively.
By Scott Klinger for Inequality.org. Top U.S. corporations are still in the process of reporting their 2015 CEO compensation, but filings to date reveal that more than 60 Fortune 500 corporations have paid their CEOs more than they paid in federal corporate income taxes. “These companies reflect the rampant practice among large U.S. corporations of avoiding taxes, leaving ordinary American families to pick up the tab.” HP Inc. (formerly Hewlett Packard), for example, pulled in $3.87 billion in federal contracts in 2015. Yet the company paid no taxes on its $373 million in U.S. pre-tax profits and instead claimed $324 million in tax rebates from the IRS. The company paid its CEO, Meg Whitman, $17.1 million last year.Five of these firms stand out as recipients of major government contracts and bailouts. In other words, they’re double-dipping — taking taxpayer support while stiffing Uncle Sam at tax time.
This is the reality of our political system in 2014: In what should be a titanic battle between multinational corporate power and federal power, our elected representatives are hardly putting up a fight. Obama has been a sharp critic of corporate tax avoidance. Yet the offshore corporate earnings stash has nearly doubled on his watch. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has unleashed blistering attacks on corporations like Walgreens that have threatened to renounce their U.S. citizenship for tax purposes. And he has said he's "ready to roll" on a vote for a (sure-to-fail) Democratic bill that seeks a two-year moratorium on inversions. Yet Reid has also been shopping a stand-alone tax-holiday proposal, rewarding multinational tax avoiders with a 9.5 percent rate. Reid's partner in this effort? Kentucky Republican Rand Paul – who's been courting right-wing billionaire David Koch.
There's a lot of cash on the sidelines, but those sidelines aren't in the U.S. They're overseas—in tax shelters. According to a new report from ISI Research, U.S. S&P 500 companies now have $1.9 trillion parked outside the country. Now, some of that is just multinational corporations profits overseas—yada, yada, yada, globalization. But a big part of it is tax avoidance. Tech and healthcare companies in particular have created byzantine systems of subsidiaries to channel earnings from high-tax to low-tax jurisdictions. Apple, as you might recall, figured out how to legally avoid paying any corporate income tax anywhere on its $30 billion of overseas profits. It set up Schrödinger's shell company: an Irish subsidiary that didn't owe Irish taxes because it was managed and controlled from the U.S., but didn't owe U.S. taxes because it was incorporated abroad.
And there are millions of other families who enjoy the same benefits. Here is just one statistic to make this point. In 1999 as the American century came to a close the U.S. government spent $24 billion on public housing and rental subsidies for the poor. But in that same year it spend $72 billion in home ownership subsidies for the middle classes and the wealthy. Subsidies that are never considered to be welfare and there is no stigma attached to this dependency. In fact, it is seen as an entitlement. Why is this so? History matters. The America welfare stage was setup in the wake of the great depression to create a new deal of social programs. But from the very start it was divided into two channels; social insurance programs made available as entitlements and public assistants programs made available as welfare. Need I point out the race and gender dimensions of this divide? It is time for America to reconsider who is dependent on welfare. Take a listen.