Investigators say due to some creative Ireland-based tax gimmicks, Apple has managed to keep $75 billion away from the IRS's reach just in the years 2009-2012.
Even Senator John McCain conceded, "Apple claims to be the largest U.S. corporate taxpayer, but by sheer size and scale, it is also among America's largest tax avoiders."
Apple is not alone. They're in very posh company. Senator Carl Levin, who called Timothy D. Cook, Apple's chief executive, to Capitol Hill this week, cited a study by Citizens for Tax Justice that 30 multi-national companies pay zero dollars in federal taxes.
And in case you missed it, Senator Harry Reid, who was widely panned during the election for saying Mitt Romney didn't pay taxes for a decade, was right! Through some resourceful faith-based loopholes Romney has effectively laundered money through the Mormon Church. There was a very good reason Romney didn't release his tax returns. They made him look like a tax cheat. Mainly because he is.
What could our country possibly do with all the money innovative accountants ship away? You may have heard about a tornado that hit the suburb of Moore, Oklahoma this week. It leveled a swath of the town causing an estimated $1 billion in damages. The two Senators from Oklahoma both voted no on Hurricane Sandy relief for the North East. Senator Jim Inhofe says tornado aid is "totally different" from aid to another wind-based natural disaster. Senator Tom Coburn, who is usually pro-government-aid when tragedy strikes his own state (like the ice storm of '07) is asking for off-sets in the federal budget to pay for Moore's losses. Basically he wants to cut services to the rest of the country so tornado victims can rebuild.
Apparently government aid in the richest country on Earth is a zero-sum game: if one person gets help, someone else gets denied.
And speaking of being the (still) richest country in the world, the American Society of Civil Engineers gives our infrastructure (roads, bridges, levees, dams, sewage system, ports etc.) a D plus. They estimate we need a $3.6 trillion investment in our public infrastructure. And that's without a Category 3 hurricane hitting our most populated city.
During the Apple hearing, Senator Rand Paul called for Congress to apologize to the company for dragging them to Capitol Hill: "Apple has 600,000 jobs they've createdAmerican jobsand we want to drag them before this committee to chastise them."
But Paul actually made the most inadvertently salient point: "I am offended by the spectacle of dragging in here executives from an American company that is not doing anything illegal."
Right. Everything they did was legal. Everything Mattel did to pay no federal taxes from 2008-2010 is legal. General Electric; legal. Verizon Communications, Boeing, Con-Way, Ryder System, Duke Way, El Paso, PG&E Corporation and the rest of the 30 multi-nationals all took advantage of legal tax advantages. Mitt Romney, who came within a mere five million votes of being the President of the United States, did nothing illegal to avoid paying taxes. It's just unpatriotic. And unethical. But because of their lobbying lawmakers to make loopholes, it's legal.
But frankly, it's deplorable.
And here's why: Because these giant corporations are getting a free pass by the very premise they create jobs. They're in essence piling their tax burden onto their workers. When sycophantic Senators like Rand Paul genuflect to corporations as "job creators" what they really mean is "taxable income creators."
So the people who work for a living give a chunk of their paychecks to the government to pay for things corporations need to conduct business (courts to protect; Congress to rig). Workers get to fund the country for the privilege of having a job.
And the (actual) privileged, whose money makes a living gets to outsource their tax obligations as a thank you from lawmakers.
This has led us to two current record highs in America: Corporate profits and Americans on food stamps.
Is there an app for that?
Tina Dupuy is an award-winning writer and fill-in host at The Young Turks. Tina can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.