A Use for Untaxed Corporate Profits

 By Jeffrey PageGE logo

Through loopholes and possible sleight of hand, 15 gigantic American corporations reported that they’d made a combined $792 billion in offshore earnings in 2012, money that was not, and will not, be taxed.

Leading the pack, according to an eye-opening chart in The New York Times, was General Electric with $110 billion derived outside the United States and which the IRS can’t get its hands on. Microsoft was second with $76 billion and Pfizer was next with $69 billion.

I’m not here to argue that this money ought to be taxed; that’s a legal and political fight for another day.

Rather, my proposal, at its core, is a morality tithe. Read on and tell me what you think of its chances.

It starts with the famous quote usually attributed to the late Everett Dirksen, a Republican from Illinois. Dirksen is said to have declared: “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.”

Such a tithe is not complicated. Here’s how it would work. GE’s $110 billion represented 14 percent of the total $792 billion in untaxed profits. So in this case, GE would cough up 14 percent of its $15.4 billion windfall – chump change – for charitable good works.

Think about it. Poor people get some help. Taxpayers get to believe, at least for a while, that corporations actually participate in the great social compact of America. And if GE were a man, he would be proud to look at himself in the bathroom mirror while shaving.

A corporation that shaves is not really a stretch. Recall Citizens United, in which our benighted Supreme Court held that corporations are fairly close to humans and even have freedom of speech.

So GE and IBM and XYZ Inc. tithe themselves. Next thing is for them to assign someone with CFO status to hand out cash to people – individuals or groups – in need here in the U.S. or overseas without crushing their dignity and spirit in the great steel gears of bureaucracy.

As Dirksen taught us, $1 billion isn’t much, but it has the potential to do great good for people who need a hand. Or who need surgery, or a place to live, or medicine for their kids. Or any of a thousand other needs that a lot of people take for granted.

Here’s what $1 billion can buy: 6.7 million front doors for Habitat for Humanity; 2.2 million fistulas repair surgeries through the Fistula Foundation. Based on retail pricing, $1 billion can buy 125 million bottles of the anti-diarrhea medicine Imodium; 67 million bottles of the antibiotic amoxicillin, 153 million bottles of children’s ibuprofen.

And a mere $10 will get a sandwich, coffee and maybe dessert for someone who doesn’t eat regularly.

All this plus your own examples for the use of some money that Big Biz won’t miss.


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3 Responses to “A Use for Untaxed Corporate Profits”

  1. Jo Galante Cicale Says:

    Great idea. If only they were as “christian” as they proclaim or want the rest of us to be, then they’d tithe. Romney could lead this effort.

  2. Lee Steup Says:

    I’m always amazed at how blind the rich are to suffering in the world, even when it’s right under their noses. How do the chief execs of these billion dollar corporations sleep at night? Unfortunately, people this blind to the needs of the multitudes would need some sort of monetary incentive to tithe. The attitude of many of the rich seems to be “if they’re suffering, they must deserve it.”

  3. R C Taplin Says:

    good thinking j.p.

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