Friday, January 19, 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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Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

The Florida Legislature’s abrupt move to strip the University of South Florida St. Petersburg of its hard-earned separate accreditation and transform it back into a satellite of the major research university lacks detail and an appreciation for histo...
Published: 01/18/18

Another voice: Self-dealing by nursing home owners threatens patient care

The outsourcing of logistical support services, which became commonplace in the U.S. military in the 1990s and later was adopted by state prison systems, has now come to dominate the nursing home industry. And while nursing homes, unlike the military...
Published: 01/17/18
Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Three years into a crisis with its sewer system, St. Petersburg has a dandy new idea for dealing with the environmental fallout of dumping dirty water into the aquifer. Instead of committing to banning the outlawed practice, a consultant suggested th...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

A substitute teacher at a Plant City elementary school berated a class of fourth graders — and then the school principal. Another compared a student to a stripper. Others were caught napping, hitting children, making sexual remarks, giving students b...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

For the longest time, injured workers in Florida were basically at the mercy of the whims of employers to treat them fairly. A 2003 law aimed at reducing the cost of workers’ compensation coverage for businesses had the desired impact, but it also di...
Published: 01/16/18

Another voice: Why just Florida?

Cynicism has always been a part of politics, but rarely are politicians so brazen and self-serving as President Donald Trump and his interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, have been over the past week. First they announced a new offshore drilling plan that ...
Published: 01/16/18
Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Today’s holiday honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. couldn’t be more timely. At a moment when the nation’s civic dialogue is choking on personal and political division, it is hard to remember an earlier time when role models were role m...
Published: 01/15/18

Another voice: 38 minutes of fear in Hawaii

In 1938, Orson Welles panicked the nation with a false alarm about a Martian invasion in the radio broadcast The War of the Worlds. That was farfetched, of course. But what happened on Saturday, sadly, was not so hard to imagine — or believe.Authorit...
Published: 01/14/18
Updated: 01/16/18
Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

As it has for decades, Florida stubbornly clings to an inhumane, inefficient and indefensible system of justice that permanently sentences more than 1.5 million residents to second-class citizenship. This state automatically revokes the right to vote...
Published: 01/13/18
Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

President Donald Trump’s vulgar outbursts during a White House meeting on immigration are racist and indefensible no matter how he parses them. They are not presidential, they undermine U.S. foreign relations and they do not reflect America’s values....
Published: 01/12/18