WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING - Suffer Unto Your Poor Pocketbook

(04/15/2008)

By Bob Weaver

The filing deadline for income tax is today.

It might interest you, while you were sleeping, who is paying most of the taxes.

Sixty-one percent of US corporations pay no taxes at all.

You won't hear this from "mainstream media," in the USA, which is now owned by six corporations, including nearly all the TV you watch.

Last year, the business giants shouldered just 14.4% of total taxes paid. In 1940, the corporations paid 50% of the tax burden.

Essentially, American corporations know how to dodge billions and billions of tax dollars.

"Most American corporations have a tax department, not just to comply with the tax code, but also as a profit center," said Charles Cray of the Center for Corporate Policy, a non-profit watchdog group.

Simply put, ordinary wage-earners (whose wages have become stagnant) are paying most of the taxes on diminished hourly wages, salaries and benefits.

Actually, corporate tax payments continue to decline.

Many corporation set up "shell companies" to help with their tax bills.

A recent example, KBR - a former Halliburton company and the largest Iraq war contractor, admitted to getting out from under their tax obligations using two Cayman Island divisions, avoiding Medicare and Social Security taxes.

The US government's General Accounting office found that 24 of the government's largest federal contractors used the Cayman Island for tax breaks amounting to billions of dollars.

The US Congress is always going to do something about this.

They have recently made an ill-fated effort to end an $18 billion tax break to oil companies who have just made world record-breaking profits.

THE WIDENING GAP

The gap between the haves and the have-not's in America is not new, but it is breaking all-time records.

The gap between the richest West Virginians and their poor counterparts has grown over the last 20 years, according to a study released yesterday.

The richest 20 percent of the state has an average income 7.5 times greater than the poorest 20 percent, according to the Economic Policy Institute and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Ted Boettner of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy says the gap can create a situation where only wealthy people participate in politics and civic life.

The rest are detached, generally becoming non-voters, little if any retirement and poor or no health insurance, buying cheap toasters and food produced in China and other globalized markets.

"The typical worker in West Virginia makes almost $1 less per hour today than 30 years ago," after adjusting for inflation, Boettner said.

The national study found that during the late 1990s, incomes grew for both rich and poor, the 2001 economic downturn ending that.

Poor and middle-income families felt the pain, but rich families recovered - partly thanks to the federal tax cuts of the early 2000s, according to the report.

The looming recession will be felt at the bottom.

In West Virginia, the study found:

- The income gap between West Virginia's richest and poorest families grew faster than in all but seven other states since the 1990s.

- Only Alabama's poor are poorer than West Virginia's. The bottom 20 percent of families here earns an average of $13,941 a year.

- Arkansas' and Mississippi's middle class earn less than West Virginia's.

- Although West Virginia's per capita income has gone up, workers still earn less per hour than 30 years ago, adjusted for inflation. Workers are keeping up their incomes by working more, more women are working, and people are working longer hours.

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities' Web site, www.cbpp.org

These changes midst the globalized economy have been going on for years, touted by America's corporate government, who says the changes "will be good for you," - while you were sleeping.


Hur Herald ®from Sunny Cal
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