Take from the rich and give to the poor – Left-wing Democrats are outraged that the owners of the largest corporations pay little to the state budget. After stopping the printing press, US officials are seeking money for Joseph Biden’s plan to invest trillions “in the future.” But then the rich will simply leave the country, said the former head of the White House Donald Trump – under him, taxes, on the contrary, were reduced. Why not only billionaires accepted the idea with hostility and how they manage to evade taxes altogether, RIA Novosti figured out.
You don’t have to pay
American senators have conceived of imposing a tribute on excess profits – to introduce a minimum levy on corporations that have earned more than a billion. This bill could affect about two hundred companies.
Independent Senator Angus King, co-author of the initiative, expects to raise more than three hundred billion in the budget in ten years. The Capitol wants to direct these funds to the social sphere and the fight against climate change – Joe Biden himself called for this. Implementation of the “historic investment in the fut-ure” plan, announced by the presidential administration in late October, will require 1.75 trillion. But they need to be taken from somewhere, despite the fact that the US national debt has almost reached 29 trillion and is increasing by about two million every minute.
Now the maximum tax for corporations is 21 percent, it was lowered to such a level under Donald Trump. But de facto billionaires may not pay at all, and absolutely legally. By law, a rise in the price of shares is not considered income until the assets are sold. And profits from securities are taxed at a lower rate than wages.
The essence of the reform is to prevent corporations from reducing their tax base. The authors of the initiative believe that the minimum corporate duty should be at least 15%. They also offer a 23.8% rate for long-term capital gains on traded assets, whether sold or not.
The main ideologist of the project is Democrat, Chairman of the Finance Committee Ron Wyden, co-authors – Angus King and Senator Elizabeth Warren, also from the Democratic Party.
“In 1965, corporate inco-me tax brought in about four percent of GDP. Today, only one,” King recalls.
One dollar tax
In June, investigative journalist ProPublica published a tax leak. It turns out that the owners of the leading corporations in 15 years have grown rich by more than four hundred billion dollars, and only 13.6 billion were sent to the budget.
For example, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in 2007 and 2011, and Elon Musk in 2018 did not pay income tax at all. Musk is now number one on the Forbes list with a net worth of $ 270 billion. Bezos has 201 billion.
Unsurprisingly, many are outraged by this. A commentary on the bill says that companies are shifting costs onto ordinary people.
Senators cite Amazon as an example: in three years, the company reported a profit of $ 45 billion, but thanks to incentives, it transferred only 4.3% to the budget. On average, the rich pay 15.8 percent – less than most salaried employees.
The rate depends on income and can be as high as 39%. But de jure, the salaries of billionaires are ridiculously low. So, according to media reports, Mark Zuckerberg at Meta and Larry Page at Google receive only a dollar a month – the same as Steve Jobs after returning to Apple in the 1990s.
What do they live on? Take loans secured by property. Since the money belongs to the bank, the tax office does not consider it income. Also, according to the media, the right to benefits is given by the acquisition of sports teams. Nota-ble beneficiaries include former Microsoft CEO Stephen Ballmer, distressed debt investor David Tepper and industrial majority owner Philip Anschutz.
Money to Mars
Elon Musk reacted with almost cosmic speed to the legislative initiative. He is sure that the problem of the state debt cannot be solved this way. “Even a 100 percent tax on billionaires will only partially cover this amount,” he wrote on Twitter.
Like the authors of the reform, Musk appeals to ordinary Americans: “Obviously, the rest will be taken from the population. This is elementary mathematics. In the end, they will run out of money and they will come for you.” And Musk’s capital, he claims, serves world progress: “My plan is to use these funds to bring humanity to Mars and preserve the light of consciousness.”
Donald Trump, for the first time in 25 years, has not been included in the Forbes list, warns: capital flight will begin – including intellectual capital.
“Which country will be the main beneficiary of the billionaire tax? Where will rich people and companies go, leaving the United States to its fate?” – Trump’s representative Liz Harrington quoted him on Twitter (the politician himself was banned there).
“I know all these countries with wise leadership, and they are delighted with what the radical left-wing maniacs are doing in Congress,” the ex-president emphasized.
But George Soros was not indignant, reports Reuters. In 2017, he was one of the authors of a petition to Congress asking not to reduce taxes on wealth, because it will increase inequality in society. The document was signed by about four hundred businessmen, including a representative of the Rockefeller dynasty.
Too hard to succeed
The bill contains more questions than answers, observers of the Western media note. It is not clear how to calculate changes in the value of real estate or works of art. In addition, the deduction from income generated after the sale of assets is contrary to the amendments to the constitution.
Bill co-author Elizabeth Warren points out that they are supported by the White House and the Treasury. But even if this is the case, the reform may meet with resistance even earlier – at the stage of discussion in the Senate itself.
“The idea is too complex to be successful,” said Richard Neal, chairman of the House Revenue and Expenditure Committee.
Given the strong opposition from the Republicans, Democrats need almost one hundred percent agreement with each other to pass the bill. But opinions within the faction were divided. Senator Bernie Sanders called the billionaire tax “a step in the right direction,” but said it was not enough to increase the budget. According to him, “reasonable options for the government to generate income seem to have been destroyed.”
And Joe Manchin, a centrist who has consistently criticized Biden’s plan, called the proposed scheme opaque. He has made it clear on more than one occasion that he will support tax amendments only if the president revises the size of his “investment in the future.” Observers believe that by engaging in constant controversy with losing points Biden, Manchin is preparing a starting position for the presidential race.
Republicans are not shy about expressions. “Another unsubstantiated and bizarre tax proposal from Democrats who want to raise new funds to fund endless checks from the government,” Congressman Kevin Brady told The Wall Street Journal.
Not a law, but a trial balloon
However, the incumbent president and his supporters cannot abandon socially oriented rhetoric. Therefore, Biden is likely to try to reach a compromise.
“The steps will be as careful as possible. He needs moderate voters in the 2022 congressional elections,” said Viktoria Zhuravleva, senior researcher at IMEMO RAS.
If the document gets into the legislative field, there will be long discussions, because “almost half of the American society considers this idea to be insane,” she adds. Although the country has a certain bottom-up demand for social welfare in the European sense, in any case the process is very complicated.
Director of the Foundation for the Study of the United States. Franklin Roosevelt at Moscow State University, Yuri Rogulev also does not believe in a quick reform. He emphasizes: for about twenty years they have been talking about a tax on transactions of the largest US corporations. “This is not a ready-made law, but a trial balloon. Its supporters, perhaps, themselves cannot yet predict the result. But changes are really necessary,” the source said.
Since the presidency of Bush Jr., taxes in the United States have been reduced. Trump just continued it. “But the pandemic has crippled both the program and Trump himself. Now we need to act harder,” Rogulev said.
Political analysts agree: Biden will have to balance between “investing in the future” and supporters of the leftist discourse, who are unlikely to back down. Moreover, the rating of the head of state is falling – more than that of any other leader since the Second World War. According to Gallup analysts, only 34 percent of independent voters approve of his work. And so far, not a single Biden initiative has added to him the sympathy of the Americans.