CommunityThe Bullpen

Corporations Ask for Tax Amnesty While Hiding Information on Outsourcing

Corporations want lower taxes on their operations. So do most people, I imagine. The difference is that corporations have the access and influence to make those lower taxes a reality.

The major check on corporate power comes from the pressure they get from the people who buy their products. If data on how many jobs these corporations have shipped overseas in the past decade were made public, that would be a powerful tool in service to that pressure. But corporations guard that data zealously.

So secretive are these companies that they hand the figure over to government statisticians on the condition that officials will release only an aggregate number. The latest data show that multinationals cut 2.9 million jobs in the United States and added 2.4 million overseas between 2000 and 2009.

Some of the same companies that do not report their jobs breakdown, including Apple and Pfizer, are pushing lawmakers to cut their tax bills in the name of job creation in the United States.

But experts say that without details on which companies are contributing to job growth and which are not, policymakers risk flying blind as they try to jump-start the hiring of American workers.

“It’s an important piece of information that the American people should have,” said Ron Hira, an associate professor of public policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology. “Should you listen to the kind of advice these companies have about how to grow the economy when their record and their model indicates they’ve cut jobs? .?.?. Or should we talk to people who actually do create jobs in the United States?”

Never mind the fact that corporate theories about the proper role of taxes are based entirely on self-interest and not on any legitimate theory of efficiency or efficacy. The fact is that corporations make broad claims about tax cuts that will create jobs, without supplying the data supporting that. We know that the last repatriation tax holiday, corporate anmesty pure and simple, did not lead to the money returned from overseas being put to use for investment or job creation. There’s no reason to believe another round of amnesty would work either. But we’d really know the answer if we simply had the data.

I’m appalled that corporations release this data to the government with a condition attached, that it remain secret. Some corporations release the numbers of US workers in annual statements, but many do not. They want to hide their gradual outsourcing. Then they ask for a tax cut so they can further their outsourcing work and reap more profits.

Previous post

Canada's NDP Leader Dead at 61

Next post

Obama Losing Base Enthusiasm and Possibly Millions in Free Labor

David Dayen

David Dayen