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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Gimme a break

Hey Whirlpool: Will you write my check to Uncle Sam? Or use your clout to make it go away?

The Michigan appliance maker will be reaping tax rewards from the federal government this year, thanks to a $1.8 million investment in lobbyists that netted them $120 million in energy tax credits -- a 6,700 percent return on their investment and more than their entire bill for being a corporate citizen:
“Energy tax credits required that Whirlpool Corporation make significant investments in tooling and manufacturing to build highly energy-efficient products,’’ Jeff Noel, Whirlpool’s corporate vice president of communication, said in an e-mail. “If you look at our 101-year history, we have definitely paid our fair share of US federal income taxes.’’
The old line used to be "don't tax you, don't tax me. Tax that fellow behind the tree." But in 21st Century America, that fellow behind the tree has enough clout to get tax breaks in a bill supposedly designed to rein in our federal deficit. And you and me are paying that fellow's tab.

In the case of Whirlpool:
Its total income taxes — including foreign, federal, and state — were negative-$436 million in 2011, negative-$64 million in 2010, and negative-$61 million in 2009. It carries forward federal credits as “deferred tax assets’’ that it can use to lower future tax bills.
Where do I go to sign up their lobbyist?

The subject of corporate subsidies and taxes is always missing from discussions about the current state of tax and budget policy in Washington. But the "job creators" Republicans like to talk about so much are making our like bandits without having to worry personal income taxes.
Private equity firms, for instance, fight each year to defend the tax treatment of “carried interest’’ payments for investment managers. Those payments are treated as a capital gain by the Internal Revenue Service, and thus taxed at a much lower rate, 20 percent in 2013, than the top income-tax rate of 39.6 percent.
Instead, Washington's "leaders" are talking about ending tax breaks for home mortgage deductions and health insurance as a way to make the system "fairer."

To be fair, some Republicans recognize the problem, including Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn:
“It’s not about tax policy, it’s about benefiting the political class and the well-connected and the well-heeled in this country. We’re benefiting the politicians because they get credit for it. And we are benefiting those who can afford to have greater access than somebody else.’’
But not enough Republicans -- or Democrats -- will acknowledge the inherent corruption of the system, where cash speaks louder than the vote of the people.

And it won't change the fact I will be writing a check to the United States Treasury today. Maybe Whirlpool can take the vacation I'm not -- and send me the pictures.

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