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$0 corporate tax bills kindle voter resentment

His concerns about a tilted economic playing field recently led Robertson to join the Akron chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.

New York Times|
Apr 30, 2019, 11.38 PM IST
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Amazon
Amazon, which is reported to be opening a center in an abandoned Akron mall that will employ 500 people, has become the poster child for corporate tax avoidance
AKRON (OHIO): Colin Robertson wonders why he pays federal taxes on the $18,000 a year he makes cleaning carpets, while the tech giant Amazon got a tax rebate.

His concerns about a tilted economic playing field recently led Robertson to join the Akron chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America. At a gathering this month, as members discussed Karl Marx and corporate greed over chocolate chip cookies, it was not long before talk turned to income inequality and how the government helps the wealthy avoid taxes.

“One of the benefits of taxation is taking it and using it for the collective good,” said Robertson, 25, comparing his minimal income to the roughly $150 billion net worth of Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive and the world’s richest person.

It is a topic that several presidential candidates, led by Sens.

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, have hammered recently as they travel the campaign trail, spurred by a report that 60 Fortune 500 companies paid no federal taxes on $79 billion in corporate income last year.

Amazon, which is reported to be opening a center in an abandoned Akron mall that will employ 500 people, has become the poster child for corporate tax avoidance; last year it had an effective tax rate of below zero — receiving a rebate — on income of $10.8 billion.

For decades, profitable companies have been able to avoid corporate taxes. But the list of those paying zero roughly doubled last year as a result of provisions in President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax bill that expanded corporate tax breaks and reduced the tax rate on corporate income.

Though both parties have sought to lower the top corporate tax rate in the last decade — President Barack Obama proposed lowering it from 35% to 28% — Republicans in 2017 pushed it down to 21%, in addition to expanding some generous tax breaks. The new law allowed immediate expensing of capital expenditures, for example, in order to goose investment. That was one of the primary reasons that more corporations paid no federal taxes, according to the report. NYT

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