Our one-month reprieve is over; it’s time to pay our taxes. The coronavirus pandemic may have delayed the IRS, but there isn’t much relief for most of us as we now have to file our income tax returns by May 17. Some of us might even have to pay taxes on some of the benefits of the COVID-19 relief we have received. And, of course, we’ll see again the fact that many of the richest people and the biggest corporations pay as little as no income tax at all.
As it has done with so many other aspects of our life and economy, the coronavirus pandemic is now exposing the inequalities of our tax laws and the dominance of our shareholder-based capitalist system. Last year was a banner year for Wall Street investment stocks, but also a record year for lost jobs in America. It is a problem.
We understand that no one wants to pay more taxes, but it is painfully obvious that our current system is not fair to working families and most of the 99% who live below the 1% line of the super-rich. The richest 1% of people last year paid 38.5% of all income taxes collected by the IRS. But 90% paid 30%. The United States is supposed to have a progressive income tax system where those who earn the most pay the most taxes at slightly higher percentages. The United States has not had a truly progressive tax system since 1968, when the top tax rate was 52.8%. It is now only 21% and the lowest rate is 12%. (It is true that very low income households do not pay income tax.)
When working families with multiple full-time jobs cannot afford child care or rent, it is regressive, not progressive. When 55 of America’s biggest corporations paid no corporate income tax last year, it’s criminal. Nike posted a profit of $ 2.9 billion. FedEx had a great year and posted a profit of $ 1.2 billion. Neither paid taxes, according to a report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. The tax watchdog said that America’s 55 largest companies demanded $ 12 billion in tax breaks last year. The same report calculated that the Trump administration’s tax cuts in 2017 reduced overall corporate tax liabilities by $ 161 billion. How much have your taxes gone down?
The pandemic has created a growing divide between the winners and the losers. Most of the jobs lost last year were middle- and low-income jobs, including nearly 20,000 jobs in Sonoma County. Meanwhile, billionaires like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg saw their wealth increase by $ 68 billion and $ 37 billion, respectively. Google’s Larry Page saw the value of his Google stock climb an additional $ 21 billion. The salaries of top executives are now 320 times higher than the average salaries of their company’s employees. What Bill Gates saw passively added to his pocket in a single day could almost fund a small town’s mom and pop businesses for a year.
Last year, Boeing cut 30,000 jobs, but its CEO earned a bonus of $ 21.1 million. The Hilton hotel chain cut 25% of all its jobs, but gave its CEO a $ 55.9 million stock option.
Guess which lobbyists are fighting against the US jobs plan proposed by the Biden administration and the infrastructure reconstruction plan? Our tax rules and our capitalist economy are designed to favor corporate profits and shareholder dividends to the detriment and detriment of workers, small businesses, minority communities and the vulnerable – our youngest children and the oldest generations. .
Sonoma County and its taxpayers, working households, and small and large businesses all share these realities of the tax system. Some of the results we are seeing are unmet local infrastructure needs, unaffordable child care, a housing crisis, healthcare shortages and growing income inequalities that are having a greater impact on our communities. Latino and colored.
Think of this as our annual plea for fair and more equitable tax reforms. All we have to do is move a few decimal points around a bit.