Ralph Nader on Tax Reform

Tax code loopholes benefit corporate donors & cost taxpayers

If anyone needs convincing about the need for campaign finance and political reform, they need look no further than the Internal Revenue Code. The Code is riddled with calculated loopholes, exemptions, credits, accelerated depreciation schedules, deductions, and targeted exceptions-many of unfathomable consequences even to trained experts-that are carefully crafted to benefit one or a handful of companies. These exist solely because well-paid lobbyists representing fat cat campaign contributors managed to convince a legislator to insert a special provision in long, complicated tax bills.

The origin of many of the corporate tax loopholes are the stuff of Washington legend. It represents one of the worst distortions of our political democracy. Well-heeled lobbyists, who spin through a revolving door between government and K Street and represent high-donor corporate interests, facilitate backroom deals that save their clients millions. The taxpayers, of course, lose commensurate amounts.

Source: Cutting Corporate Welfare, p. 20 Oct 9, 2000

Sunshine on tax loopholes; sunset on tax breaks

[To deal with] specially targeted loopholes [in the tax code, Congress should] remove the anonymity, which would make preservation of the tax advantages much more difficult politically. The OMB should be required to compile a list of the top 50 beneficiaries of each corporate tax expenditure.

A second critical issue is that tax expenditures are designed to encourage specific kinds of behavior. Do they do so? Determining whether undesirable consequences occur requires more data gathering and close scrutiny, which should come from Congress, the media, and citizens.

One way to facilitate that scrutiny is to have sunset provisions for corporate tax expenditures (as for other corporate welfare programs), which would require Congressional review of tax breaks. Unproven tax expenditures should have a short first life, say two years, to allow testing and review of whether that achieved the desired effects.

Source: Cutting Corporate Welfare, p. 79-80 Oct 9, 2000

Put meat in the process of progressive taxation

How to pay for all [of Nader’s progressive social programs]? Eliminating “hundreds of billions” in corporate welfare would be a start, says Nader, who would also cut the military budget by $100 billion, or about a third. He would also change the tax system. “I’d really put meat in the process of progressive taxation,” he says. “The richer people are, the more the percentage you pay.”
Source: Scot Lehigh, Boston Globe, page D1 Oct 8, 2000

More taxpayer input into tax & spending policy

Taxpayers have very little legal standing in the federal courts and little indirect voice in the assembling & disposition of taxpayer revenues. Closer scrutiny of these matters between elections is necessary. Facilities can be established to accomplish a closer oversight of taxpayer assets and how tax dollars are allocated. This is an arena which is, at present, shaped heavily by corporations that, despite record profits, pay far less in taxes as a percent of the federal budget than in the 1950s and 60s.
Source: Green Party Announcement Speech Feb 21, 2000

Tax breaks for big business hurt families

Increasingly, the citizens are seeing the emergence of an enormous double standard where a giant, powerful corporation is given a ten year tax free holiday, is given free land, free water, & free site preparation for an expanded factory, while families, small businesses and children suffer the burdens and pay the tax freight for the bosses from Stuttgart and Detroit. A big and powerful corporation can bring a town to its knees and receive huge subsidies just by threatening to move elsewhere.
Source: In the Public Interest: “Welfare for DaimlerChrysler” Dec 21, 1999

Tax breaks to big business unfairly hurt small business

When big businesses receive subsidies, they gain a substantial competitive advantage over smaller business. Worse still, property tax exemptions diminish the tax base that funds public services. Corporations justify their refusal to meet their community obligations by insisting that the economic impact of their investments in the community invigorates it. But isn’t that true of other smaller businesses as well? What these big businesses are really saying is that sheer size and power demands privilege.
Source: “In the Public Interest” newspaper column Apr 14, 1999

Focus on under-taxation of corporations, not income tax

Q: Do you think Americans are taxed too much, too little, or just right?

A: Well, corporations are undertaxed. That’s been reported repeatedly. There have been corporations in the last 20 years who make hundreds of millions of dollars, pay no taxes, or 1% tax, or 3% tax. Or if they owe taxes on export profits, they have been deferred to have their taxes forgiven by special- interest legislation.

In the 1950s, the corporate income tax was 25% of the federal outlay; it’s now about 6% or 7%. This is in a period of record corporate profits, record stock market prices, record executive compensation. The corporations are not contributing their fair share to the tax pool. As a matter of fact, I suspect that if you took all the corporate welfare and then took all the corporate income taxes paid, the aggregate would be zero taxes paid. So that leaves the burden on, largely, middle-income and lower-income Americans.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday Interview, p. 3/Z1 Oct 13, 1996

Against flat tax; keep progressivity

Q: Would you support something like a flat tax?

A: No. I would simplify the tax bill but always keep progressivity in there. First of all, it’s hard to find a major fortune in America that hasn’t benefited by special-interest legislation. So when people ask, “Why should the rich pay a larger percent of their income than middle-income people?” -- my answer is not an answer most people get: It’s because their power developed from laws that enriched them.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday Interview, p. 3/Z1 Oct 13, 1996

Other candidates on Tax Reform: Ralph Nader on other issues:
George W. Bush
Dick Cheney
Al Gore
Bill Clinton
Jesse Ventura
Ross Perot
Ralph Nader
Pat Buchanan
John McCain
Civil Rights
Foreign Policy
Free Trade
Govt. Reform
Gun Control
Health Care
School Choice
Social Security
Tax Reform
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