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They Dodge Taxes So You Get Hit Harder

April 15, 2013 10:12 am ET
While millions of ordinary Americans scramble to file their income tax returns today, the very wealthy with offshore tax havens and the biggest corporations aren't sweating it. Their tax lobbyists have created so many loopholes over the years that the effective corporate tax rate is only 12%, and some corporations pay nothing -- yet they're still lobbying Congress for more tax cuts. Tell people what's going on and why.

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CORE MESSAGE

They want you to pay their share.

Connect: We all know it -- our tax code is rigged.

Illustrate: Billionaire hedge fund managers still pay lower taxes than their secretaries, and the biggest corporations like GE and Verizon are getting away with paying nothing at all.

Contrast: Working families and small business owners pay their taxes so we can invest in America and make everyone better off, not so we can give hedge fund managers another tax break.

Expose: Corporate tax lobbyists are pushing Congress to give them more special tax breaks while making everyone else bear more of the burden -- even by cutting basic cost-of-living adjustments and health care benefits that hardworking families count on.

Discredit: Lobbyists for billionaires claim that we can fix the budget by giving more to those who already have a lot, but the only way to make their math add up is if regular people pay more.

Values: Those who've done well in America ought to do well by America and pay their fair share.


ATTACKS AND RESPONSES


ATTACK: "The corporate tax rate is the highest in the world."
RESPONSE:

  • The effective corporate income tax rate is only 12%. Corporations in America haven't been paying the full corporate tax rate for 45 years, and some multinational companies like GE and Verizon are dodging taxes so well that they're getting money back from American taxpayers.
  • Big corporations are paying historically low taxes because Congress has given them so many special tax loopholes and excuses to stash their profits offshore -- while laying off Americans.
  • The lobbyists complaining that the corporate tax rate is too high to be competitive want us to forget that most other advanced countries actually tax corporations at higher rates and raise more revenues from corporations than we do.
  • So big corporations are enjoying record profits at 60-year highs and hoarding massive amounts of cash while stiffing the workers who keep their companies going. They're just complaining that we're not paying enough of their share.


ATTACK: "We should move to a territorial foreign tax system."
RESPONSE:

  • A "territorial tax system" is Washington lobbyists' code for rewarding big multinational corporations for sending American jobs overseas. It's just a fancy way for corporate tax lobbyists to say they want more tax cuts.
  • Here's the real story. Multinational corporations already pay no U.S. income taxes on their offshore profits, as long as the profits stay offshore. Under a "territorial" tax system, they would never have to pay U.S. income taxes on those profits -- encouraging them to offshore even more.
  • It should be a no-brainer that we should be rewarding companies for investing in America and putting Americans back to work, not giving them more tax breaks for sending jobs overseas.
  • Big corporations are doing just fine. The lion's share of our economic recovery is already going to corporate profits instead of regular workers' pockets, and some corporations like GE and Verizon are getting away with paying no income taxes at all.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

  • The wealthiest Americans are paying nearly the lowest tax rate in 50 years. In 2009, 22,000 households that made more than $1 million paid less than 15% in income taxes and nearly 1,500 paid no federal income taxes.
  • Click here for trading cards and profiles of the biggest corporate tax dodgers, like GE, Bank of America, and Verizon.
  • According to one study, ten of the largest companies in the U.S. paid no federal income tax on $16 billion in profits in 2012. Over the past five years, they paid zero federal income tax on nearly $60 billion in profits.
  • In terms of taxes dodged every year, corporations and wealthy individuals avoid paying an estimated $150 billion by using complicated accounting tricks to shift their profits to offshore tax havens. Corporations account for 60% of that, or $90 billion.
  • The average American taxpayer pays an extra $1,000 in taxes to cover the lost revenue from corporations and the very wealthy exploiting offshore tax havens not available to most people. The average small business pays over $3,000 to cover the offshore tax dodging by big corporations.
  • Corporate tax lobbyists have no credibility on these issues. When multinational corporations got their way on a similar offshoring tax giveaway in 2004, they started firing Americans right away while using the money to pay investors and corporate executives.
  • U.S. parents of multinational companies cut nearly 900,000 jobs between 1999 and 2009, while their foreign affiliates added nearly 3 million jobs.
  • CEO pay in the U.S. is 380 times the average pay of their workers -- by far the biggest gap in the world. History shows that as CEO pay rises, median income for ordinary families falls and the divide between the richest few and everyone else grows wider.
We develop messaging by aggregating, analyzing and distilling polling, tested messaging, and expert recommendations, and monitoring the media to identify what is and isn't working. See here for some of the experts and organizations we draw on.


 


Posted in - Budget - Taxes - Economy - Jobs

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