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Ralph Nader on Tax Reform

2008 Independent for for President; 2004 Reform nominee; 2000 Green nominee


Corporations should appreciate taxpayers for their subsidies

April 15 is around the corner. Could the corporate executives of this country please stand up and show a little appreciation? To the taxpayers who subsidize them? And bail them out? How about the $30 billion bailout of reckless Bear Stearns as the most recent and egregious example?

I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that April 15th of each year be designated Taxpayer Appreciation Day, a day when corporations receiving taxpayer subsidies, bailouts, handouts and other forms of corporate welfare can express their thanks to the citizens who provide them.

Taxpayer dollars have often funded discoveries made by NASA, the Department of Defense, and the National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies. In many instances the rights to those discoveries were later given away to companies that brag about them as though they were the fruits of their own investments.

The least they could do is thank us. Which is why we need something like Taxpayer Appreciation Day.

Source: Weekly e-newsletter, www.votenader.org , Apr 11, 2008

End perverse incentives that reward Wall Street speculators

We have the worst tax system, perverse incentives that rewards the speculators on Wall Street. Why aren’t we taxing speculation on Wall Street instead of heavily taxing human labor and sales taxing necessities like food and appliances and furniture and clothing? There’s no debate on this.
Source: Meet the Press: 2008 “Meet the Candidates” series , Feb 24, 2008

Stop tax cuts and start dealing with real problems

We can solve the problem of poverty and homelessness. But it will take more than the “Alice in Wonderland” economics of the Bush Administration which believes there is only one solution to all problems-cut taxes for the wealthy who, unlike working families, do not spend their Bush bonus. We need to get off this plutocratic tax-cutting binge and start grappling with real solutions to real problems.
Source: In the Public Interest, “Tax Cuts Homeless Problems Grow” , Jun 3, 2003

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

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George Bush Sr. (R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan (R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter (D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford (R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon (R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson (D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy (D,1961-1963)

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Page last updated: Mar 14, 2014