Corporate Taxes: Passing It On to the Consumer
Accountants aren't the only ones who have to suffer all the way to April 15th though corporate tax accountants have it worse than anyone. GE's tax return is 24,000 pages (the biggest our friends at the Service have to slog through), could you imagine having to put that behemoth together?
Though Exxon's financial statement's don't show any net income tax liability owed to Uncle Sam, a company spokesman insists that once its final tax bill is figured, Exxon will owe a "substantial 2009 tax liability." How substantial? "That's not something we're required to disclose, nor do we."
Naturally the Obama administration wants to put an end to this. It has proposed doing away with tax deferrals on overseas income. If the plan passes, a U.S. company that pays a 25% tax on profits in China would have to pay an additional 10% income tax to Uncle Sam to bring it up to the 35% corporate rate. "Eliminating deferrals would put U.S. companies on an unlevel playing field," says the Tax Foundation's Hodge, "especially if competing with the likes of Germany, which only taxes companies on domestic operations."
Would no more tax holiday for GE really end up helping Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer? Doubtful. "The average Joe should be in favor of lower corporate taxes," says Hodge, "because ultimately they are paying the corporate income tax. Either as workers, getting lower wages and fewer jobs, or as consumers, paying higher prices, or as retirees, getting lower dividends and earnings on their investments."
In the same vein, JPMorgan Chase Chief Executive Jamie Dimon has spoken out against an Obama proposal to levy a special tax on banks to recoup bailout costs. "Using tax policy to punish people is a bad idea," said Dimon. "All businesses tend to pass costs on to customers."
Is that a threat, Jamie? I think so.