Saturday, May 14, 2011

Corporations Investing Tax Break Windfall In Politicians

Original Link:

ExxonMobil, Bank of America, General Electric, Chevron and Boeing had combined profits of $77.16 billion in 2010 but paid $0 in federal income taxes, according to a new report from NYC Public Advocate Bill De Blasio, who is outraged that many massive corporations are getting incredible tax breaks while also pouring money into political campaigns. Contributions have soared since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision last year, which gave corporations more freedom to spend money on politics. De Blasio's analysis found that these top five recipients of corporate tax breaks avoided paying $5.4 billion$3.7 billion in potential taxes last year. At the same time, they spent a combined $7.86 million in campaign contributions, a 7% jump over their 2008 political spending. But you can't hold it against them, it is their First Amendment right.

"These tax breaks were put in place to promote growth and create jobs, not bankroll the political causes of corporate executives," de Blasio said in a statement. "The unencumbered and anonymous spending in elections let loose by the Citizens United ruling has opened the door for a gross misuse of taxpayer dollars. No company that can afford to spend millions of dollars to influence our elections should be pleading poverty come tax time."

De Blasio is calling on these corporations to verify that no taxpayer dollars will be used on election spending in the future. Last week Exxon Mobil reported a first-quarter profit of $10.7 billion, a 69 percent jump from the year before. In its defense, the company claims it paid $1.6 billion in U.S. income taxes and $8.2 billion in other taxes—pressed on those numbers by the Washington Post, Exxon Mobil officials "said they were counting $6.2 billion in gasoline sales taxes and $2 billion in local property taxes and other duties." The company has a big shareholders meeting on May 25, and de Blasio is urging them to call for a full disclosure of all corporate political spending. Yeah, we're sure they'll get right on that.

What's really chilling is that de Blasio's analysis doesn't even take into account the full impact of Citizens United, which now lets companies funnel limitless amounts of money through trade associations and other tax-exempt nonprofits without disclosing this information. De Blasio is calling on them to prohibit their trade association dues from being used for political contributions and electioneering.

In response to all this, Exxon Mobil vice president for public affairs, Kenneth Cohen, told the Post, "We understand that it’s simply too irresistible for many politicians in times of high oil prices and high earnings; they feel they have to demonize our industry." Oh, tut-tut, Cohen, you don't need politicians like de Blasio to demonize your industry—you're doing a fine job on your own.

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