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Study: Corporate tax dodgers hurt California

December 8, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Fortune 500 companies dodging corporate taxes: It's not illegal, but by not paying their share, California is forced to make budget cuts. And that could affect you.

Among its causes, the Occupy movement has highlighted what it calls "corporate greed." Now there's a study to back up those claims.

The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) and Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ) found what they call numerous tax dodgers when analyzing returns between 2008 and 2010 from all 50 states.

Averaging the past three years, the top three in California:

  • Healthcare information technology firm McKesson actually received a 1.5-percent refund from state income taxes.
  • Marketer Core-Mark Holding was also in negative territory, at minus 1 percent.
  • Silicon Valley giant Intel paid no state income taxes.

All were profitable in each of those years.

"Basically the system is kind of rigged for corporations to have it easier than people. So I'm really not surprised at these numbers," said Cesar Aguirre, an Occupy Sacramento participant.

The Institute for Research on Labor and Employment says when corporations pay no or low taxes, there's not enough money to support schools and other government services. The result: Budget cuts and maybe more budget cuts after that.

"We don't have the funds necessary to run the state. So it's extremely important that we get the tax base that is due here in California," said UC Berkeley economist Sylvia Allegretto.

It's important to point out no company is being accused of any wrongdoing.

The report says corporations get a lot of help avoiding their tax responsibilities from accounting firms, lobbyists and state lawmakers.

State Assemblyman Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento) headed a hearing on wealth inequality this week and acknowledged government's role in fostering corporate tax breaks and loopholes, especially when jobs are promised in return.

"I think it's a fair criticism that we have tended to be much more responsive to those who have influence, who have economic resources and often times at the expense of those who are the most vulnerable among us," said Dickinson, the committee chairman.

Meanwhile there are still more than 2 million Californians out of work, a number that hasn't budged much during the tax period studied.


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