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Taxes, taxes, taxes

by By JOAN DAOUST
| April 2, 2024 7:00 AM

As we good citizens work to file our state and federal returns, we need to be mindful of recent federal tax policies that are grossly unjust.  

A new report from Americans for Tax Fairness notes that due to the 2017 Trump/GOP tax legislation 35 large, wealthy corporations paid less in taxes than they paid to their top five executives while receiving federal tax refunds of nearly $2 billion. 

Tesla paid Elon Musk and four other executives $2.5 billion, while receiving a corporate tax refund of $1 billion on $4.4 billion in net profits.

T-Mobile paid its top five executives $675 million while receiving an $80 million refund on nearly $18 billion in profits. These are only two of many examples. General Electric earned $7 billion in profits and paid -6% federal income tax rate. General Motors earned $6 billion in profits and paid 4% federal tax rate. The list goes on. 

Additionally, corporations have increased the practice of stock buybacks. This is a process in which a corporation buys back its own stock at inflated values, benefiting the CEOs and the 1% of Americans who own 50% of the nation’s stock. 

These buybacks come at a huge cost. Every dollar spent on them means less investment in wages, working conditions, safety or equipment upgrades. 

For example, Norfolk Southern paid investors $18 billion in buybacks and dividends over a 5-year period before equipment malfunctions led to the disastrous derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, resulting in the release of over 300,000 gallons of toxic and flammable chemicals into the soil and air.  2023 buybacks include Google $61.5 billion, Meta $19 billion, T-Mobile $13 billion, General Motors $11 billion and the list goes on.

Not only are corporations not paying their fair share, but billionaires are not paying a reasonable share. The National Bureau of Economic Research has completed an analysis of the Trump tax cut. 

The promise of massive tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy resulted in a decrease of corporate tax revenue by $100 billion. The wealthy pay tax on only the first $168,000 they earn. 

If corporations and millionaires paid their share, social programs like Social Security and Medicare would be adequately funded. Recent polling shows 73% of Americans want corporations and the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes.

The Republican Congress and Senate are taking very good care of their corporate and personal donors, and plan to make up for the massive loss of revenue by cutting or privatizing Social Security and Medicare.  

Indeed, on March 11, Trump gave an interview to CNBC and suggested “cutting Social Security and Medicare a lot.”  

While president, Trump proposed cuts to Social Security and Medicare in every single budget he released. Every Republican on the House Budget Committee recently voted to create a closed-door (secret) commission to cut Social Security and Medicare.

The Republicans in DC have quietly planned those cuts and will act as soon as they hold both houses. If you find this problematic, do not send Republican representatives or senators to DC in the November election. 

Do not vote for anyone who won’t work for all Montanans and all Americans.

- Joan Daoust has retired from a career in cancer clinical research and has lived in Helena since 1980.