Warren Buffett, General Electric and Jesus
Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Even “the Oracle of Omaha” Warren Buffet, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, in his report to stockholders in 2003 wrote “Corporate income taxes in fiscal 2003 accounted for 7.4% of all federal tax receipts, down from a post-war peak of 32% in 1952. With one exception (1983), last year’s percentage is the lowest recorded since data was first published in 1934. “Even so, tax breaks for corporations (and their investors, particularly large ones) were a major part of the Administration’s 2002 and 2003 initiatives. If class warfare is being waged in America, my class is clearly winning.(emphasis added) Today, many large corporations – run by CEOs whose fiddle-playing talents make your Chairman look like he is all thumbs – pay nothing close to the stated federal tax rate of 35%.”
The idea of taxation is one which undoubtedly stirs up passionate emotions, some of which expressions are thoughtless and vitriolic. To describe such remarks as nonsensical would be kind. Our nation – indeed, every nation’s citizens – have historically experienced grief from taxes. We never feel like we a.) have enough, and; b.) shouldn’t be required to pay for something that benefits us indirectly. Why, for example, did your mother feed your sibling? How did that benefit you? It wasn’t food in your mouth.
However, Christ continually reminded His Disciples that money – while it is a medium of exchange – is not a thing required for holiness, but rather that holiness can be found by giving up that thing which is often most precious to us. We do not find holiness by holding tightly to the things that our own hands bring to us. We increase by giving away. “There is one who scatters, yet increases more…” Proverbs 12:24
20So they watched him closely and sent spies who pretended to be honest men in order to trap him in what he would say. They wanted to hand him over to the jurisdiction[g] of the governor. 21So they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you are right in what you say and teach, and that you don’t favor any individual, but teach the way of God truthfully. 22Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
23But he discerned their craftiness and responded to them, 24“Show me a denarius. Whose face and name does it have?”
They said, “Caesar’s.”
25So he said to them, “Then give back to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” – Luke 20:25 (ISV)
“However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me.” – Matt 17:27 (NASB)
42Then a destitute widow came and dropped in two small copper coins, worth about a cent. 43He called his disciples and said to them, “I tell you with certainty, this destitute widow has dropped in more than everyone who is contributing to the offering box, 44because all of them contributed out of their surplus, but out of her poverty she has given everything she had to live on.” – Mark 12:42-44 (ISV)
3Whoever teaches false doctrine and doesn’t agree with the accurate words of our Lord Jesus Christ and godly teachings 4is a conceited person. He shows that he doesn’t understand anything. Rather, he has an unhealthy desire to argue and quarrel about words. This produces jealousy, rivalry, cursing, suspicion, 5and conflict between people whose corrupt minds have been robbed of the truth. They think that a godly life is a way to make a profit. 6A godly life brings huge profits to people who are content with what they have. 7We didn’t bring anything into the world, and we can’t take anything out of it. 8As long as we have food and clothes, we should be satisfied. 9But people who want to get rich keep falling into temptation. They are trapped by many stupid and harmful desires which drown them in destruction and ruin. 10Certainly, the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people who have set their hearts on getting rich have wandered away from the Christian faith and have caused themselves a lot of grief.
11But you, man of God, must avoid these things. Pursue what God approves of: a godly life, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. – 1Timothy 6:3-11 (GWT)
The very idea that we are in a community – a gathering of people, the veritable family of man – that live as one speaks volumes, that we are part of one another, that we are not divorced from each other, either emotionally, spiritually, physically or otherwise. Thus, it is incumbent upon us to understand that we all work together for everyone’s common benefit.
We each have different gifts, some to make money, some to make music, some to teach, some to help, and yet we all work together.
It would be horribly wrong to tell some that they did not have to pull their fair share. And yet, increasingly, that is precisely what has been done – by and through our Congress and legislation.
March Madness for Corporate Tax Dodgers
Top seeds in the Tax Haven Tourney: banks and power companies
The small companies and public didn’t have a chance in the early rounds. Now it’s down to a few formidable corporate teams, the Cheat 16:
- General Electric made $10.3 billion in 2009, but received a $1.1 billion tax rebate.
- Forbes said about Bank of America in 2010: “How did they not pay any taxes on $4.4 billion in income?”
- Oil giant Exxon made a $45 billion profit in 2009, but paid no taxes in the United States.
- Citigroup had 4 quarters of billion-dollar profits in 2010, but paid no taxes.
- Wells Fargo made $12 billion but purchased Wachovia Bank to claim a $19 billion tax credit.
- Hewlett Packard’s U.S. income tax rate was 4.3% in 2008 and 2.3% in 2009.
- Verizon’s 10.5% tax rate, according to Forbes, is due to its partnership with Vodafone, the primary target in UK Uncut’s protests against tax evaders.
- Chevron’s tax rate was 1% in 2008.
- Boeing, which just won a $30 billion contract to build 179 airborne tankers, got $124 million back from the taxpayers in 2010.
- Over the past 5 years Amazon made $3.5 billion and paid taxes at the rate of 4.3%.
- Carnival Cruise Lines paid 1% in taxes on its $11.5 billion profit over the past 5 years.
- Koch Industries is not publicly traded, so their antics are kept private. But they benefit from taxpayer subsidies in ranching and logging.
- In 2008 CorporateWatch said Rupert Murdoch’s Newscorp paid “astoundingly low taxes” because of tax havens.
- Google “cut its taxes by $3.1 billion in the last three years by shifting its money around foreign countries.
- Merck, the second-largest drugmaker in the U.S., last year brought more than $9 billion from abroad without paying any U.S. tax.
- Pfizer, the largest drugmaker in the U.S., erased $10 billion in taxes with an “accounting treatment.”
All the above has been documented by US Uncut Chicago members on PayUpNow.org .
Who’s projected for the Final Frauding Four?
Best Defense: Google uses a game plan called a “Double Irish Defense,” which moves most of its foreign profits through Ireland and the Netherlands to Bermuda.
Best Offense: GE’s 2010 SEC 10-K tax filing boldly states: “At December 31, 2010, $94 billion of earnings have been indefinitely reinvested outside the United States…we do not intend to repatriate these earnings..”
Most Steals: Citigroup: 427 tax haven subsidiaries
Best Trash talk: A General Electric spokeswoman: “G.E. pays many other taxes including payroll taxes on the wages of our employees, property taxes, sales and use and value added taxes.”
Most game-ending bailouts: Bank of America received $45 Billion in tax payer bailout funds in 2008 and 2009. In 2009 the company earned a pretax income of $4.4 billion, but claimed a $1.9 Billion tax benefit from the government.
Teams with the most reserves:
General Electric: $77 billion
Google: $24 billion
That’s 2 companies holding $101 billion that could be invested in jobs.
Tax Haven Tourney Champion? GE is the Duke of Tax Avoidance.
Paul Buchheit is a faculty member in the School for New Learning at DePaul University, author of UsAgainstGreed.org and RappingHistory.org, and the editor of “American Wars: Illusions and Realities” (Clarity Press). He can be reached at paul@UsAgainstGreed.org.