March 27, 2014
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Many huge, profitable corporations pay no state taxes, according to a new report from Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy.
The report looks at 300 Fortune 500 companies that made a profit every year from 2008 to 2012 and found at least 90 of them paid no taxes to any state for one of the past six years.
Sean O'Leary, policy analyst with the West Virginia Center on Budget & Policy, says those corporations used the same kinds of loopholes and tax cuts that put West Virginia in the red this year.
He says cutting those taxes has been a mistake.
"They don't create jobs in the state,” O'Leary maintains. “They just funnel money out of the state into large, profitable, out-of-state-corporations.
“And for the ones we do give away in West Virginia, we do very little to evaluate to see if they are actually working."
Matt Gardner, director of the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy, says state corporate tax breaks shift the tax burden to working families, at a time when few can afford it.
"That so many companies are finding ways to zero out their tax when middle-income families don't have that luxury should prompt lawmakers in every state to ask hard questions about what tax breaks these companies are claiming and whether these tax breaks ought to be reformed," he says.
Industry lobbyists argue that state lawmakers should cut corporate taxes to entice companies to locate or expand in the state.
But O'Leary says in fact those decisions are determined by labor, materials and transportation costs, or consumer demand.
He says state and local taxes are just too small to matter for most firms.
"Less than two percent, in most cases, of those total costs,” he points out. “That slice of the pie is not going to drive the decision.
“The decision is going to be driven by infrastructure, access to markets, customer base, and production materials that are available."