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The reason you pay more taxes than GE

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POSTED July 25, 2012 11:45 p.m.

Let me tell you how it will be
There’s one for you, nineteen for me
‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman

Should five per cent appear too small
Be thankful I don’t take it all
‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah I’m the taxman

If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street,
If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat.
If you get too cold I’ll tax the heat,
If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet.

Don’t ask me what I want it for
If you don’t want to pay some more
‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman

— Lyrics from the Beatles’ song “The Taxman”

Taxes - as they say - are a necessary evil.

That said evil needs to be kept in check.

Consider some of the “creative” ways more taxes are being proposed. They range from a tax on vehicle miles driven in the Bay Area to a sugary drink tax in the Southern California enclave of El Monte. These are not sin taxes per se. Those proposing them make it clear they want cold, hard cash.

Instead of using creativity to dream up new taxes government would better serve everyone by streamlining how they go about doing the public’s business. We’d also be better off if we expected less of government and instead insist they get back to basics.

That said there is still a need for more tax revenue.

But they need not keep coming after the little guys loosely defined as those making $150,000 or less a year.

The move to end the loophole for retail sales via the Internet to escape sales tax is the first step. That’s $25 billion.

However, it is still relatively small potatoes. The time has come to gut the tax code of credits for special interests - read that large corporations - and to give the IRS teeth to go after the tax evaders that do the most harm which is not someone making less than $75,0000 a year.

Raising income tax rates on anyone is not the answer. Taking away the credits and tax shelters that apply to only a handful of interests is.

If you read accounts of how Apple which is buried under $120 billion-plus in cash reserves is avoiding paying maximum taxes in the United States you will see the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

While most of us stress over April 15 each year, the big players often don’t worry about paying taxes thanks to the largess of Congress and how politicians on both sides of the aisle have declawed the IRS for their buddies.

General Electric didn’t pay any taxes in 2010. It is the same year they had net profits of $14.2 billion. I paid significantly more in federal taxes than GE. That - in a nutshell - is the problem.

Corporate types whine about taxes being job killers. True. But given enough tax shelters and tax credits courtesy of Democrats and Republicans alike who say one thing to voters and something entirely different to their big dollar campaign benefactors you could have a tax rate of 100 percent and GE and others like them wouldn’t pay a penny.

Everybody swoons over how Silicon Valley is changing the world of politics. There is no moral high ground. They are giving like there is no tomorrow to both the Romney and Obama campaigns because they are courting favor. And the favors they chase are designed to give them a leg up on the competition or to protect their profits from taxes.

Meanwhile, the rest of us engage in the morality play of whether we should be taxed more or government cut more.

Taxes are a necessary evil for you and me. But apparently not for the likes of Apple, GE, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, et al who have attentive politicians at their beck and call to do everything in their power to zero out their tax liabilities.

This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at or 209-249-3519.

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