Monday, April 23, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Get rid of corporate tax loopholes

At the same time Congress is looking to reduce federal spending by cutting money for food stamps, it is letting some of the biggest, most profitable U.S. companies avoid paying tens of billions of dollars in federal income taxes each year. Corporations complain that the United States has one of the world's highest corporate income tax rates at 35 percent, but that is only on paper. Year after year, Congress' refusal to plug tax loopholes is shifting the nation's tax burden onto individuals and families and skewing national priorities in harmful ways.

A new Government Accountability Office report finds that the average tax rate for the country's large, profitable businesses was just 12.6 percent in 2010, a lower rate than paid by many teachers and police officers. The GAO report looked at taxes paid by profitable U.S. corporations with at least $10 million in assets. It found that companies' incredibly low federal income tax rate is only slightly increased to 16.9 percent when foreign, state and local taxes are included.

The result: The federal Treasury is losing upwards of $180 billion a year, an earlier GAO report found. And in 2012, Citizens for Tax Justice documented that 30 of the nation's largest multinational companies paid no federal income taxes over a recent three-year period despite raking in more than $160 billion in profits. It's an epidemic of shirking tax responsibility that is starving democracy by denying federal coffers the money necessary to pay for current needs and future investments.

Corporate profits are soaring and represent a larger share of national income than at any time since World War II. But corporate taxes make up just 9 percent of federal tax revenue, down sharply from a high of 32 percent. Everyone else is paying a proportionately larger share, including struggling families who don't have an army of tax lawyers and lobbyists working to lower their tax bills through loopholes and gimmicks.

The problem is getting needed attention because Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., have been pounding away at it in a spirit of bipartisanship. They ordered the GAO study and held hearings to highlight the need for corporate tax reform. Last year, a Senate committee showed how Microsoft had shifted 47 cents of every dollar in U.S. sales revenue offshore, which helped it avoid paying taxes on more than $20 billion in income. Apple Inc., in a Senate hearing earlier this year, was found to make itself effectively stateless for income tax purposes by creating offshore corporations through which to filter profits, avoiding U.S. income taxes on more than $74 billion in profits from 2009 to 2012.

Corporate tax avoidance is rot in the system that undermines the collective responsibility to pay the costs of government. There should be a bipartisan push to end these well-documented tax loopholes that is not revenue-neutral, as some Republican lawmakers have demanded. It should bring in additional tax dollars that should have been funding government operations all along. Maybe then food stamps for hungry Americans won't be on the chopping block.

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Correction

CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18