Democracy Now!

Taxes

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  • As President Trump marks his first 100 days in office, Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) argues many of his plans have increased inequality. "The tax plan is one where the benefits go to the elites in urban areas and corporations," Welch says. "Those are direct policies that will be crushing to the economic prospects of folks, especially in rural America." Meanwhile, a plan backed by the Koch brothers to classify the internet as a public utility would leave the industry to largely police itself.

  • The White House has outlined a plan to give the nation’s millionaires and billionaires a massive tax break while adding trillions of dollars to the U.S. deficit. The plan would lower the corporate tax rate to 15 percent, end the estate tax and end the alternative minimum tax—a move that would solely benefit the richest Americans, including President Trump. A leaked 2005 tax return shows Trump paid out $36.6 million in federal income taxes that year—most of it due to the alternative minimum tax. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich described Trump’s tax plan as a form of class warfare. The tax plan was unveiled on Wednesday by two former executives at Goldman Sachs—Trump’s chief economic adviser Gary Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin—who hailed the tax cuts. We speak to economist James Henry of the Tax Justice Network.

  • The White House is facing new criticism over its lack of transparency, as President Trump is refusing to release his tax returns as well as logs of White House visitors. On Monday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Trump did not plan to release his tax returns, saying Trump was under an audit. Spicer’s comments came just two days after more than 100,000 people took to the streets on Saturday to call on Trump to release his taxes. Crowds gathered in more than a dozen cities from coast to coast, including Washington, D.C., New York City, Chicago, Seattle, and in South Florida, where activists marched to Trump’s private Mar-a-Lago resort, where Trump was staying over the weekend. Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers are vowing not to work with Trump on reforming or rewriting the tax code unless Trump releases his own taxes. More than a dozen Republican lawmakers are also calling on Trump to release his taxes. For more, we speak with Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause New York. She was on the steering committee for the NYC Tax March.

  • Calls are growing for President Trump to release his full tax returns after part of his 2005 return was made public Tuesday. Two pages from Trump’s tax return were obtained by Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist David Cay Johnston of DCReport, who appeared last night on "The Rachel Maddow Show" on MSNBC. The 2005 tax return shows Trump earned $153 million—or more than $400,000 a day. Trump paid out $36.6 million in federal income taxes, much of it in the form of what’s known as the alternative minimum tax, which Trump now wants to eliminate. On Wednesday morning, President Trump tweeted, "Does anybody really believe that a reporter, who nobody ever heard of, 'went to his mailbox' and found my tax returns? @NBCNews FAKE NEWS!" That’s despite the fact that the White House confirmed the authenticity of the documents Tuesday, after Maddow teased the scoop. For more, we speak with Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist David Cay Johnston, who obtained part of Trump’s 2005 tax returns.

  • Two pages from Trump’s tax return were obtained by Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist David Cay Johnston of DCReport, who appeared last night on "The Rachel Maddow Show" on MSNBC. The 2005 tax return shows Trump earned $153 million—or more than $400,000 a day. Trump paid out $36.6 million in federal income taxes, much of it in the form of what’s known as the alternative minimum tax, which Trump now wants to eliminate. For more, we speak with investigative journalist David Cay Johnston, who obtained part of Trump’s 2005 tax returns and who has won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on tax law.

  • With just over a month until Election Day, The New York Times has dropped a bombshell report that suggests Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump may have avoided paying any federal income taxes for 18 years. Trump’s campaign has not challenged the authenticity of the leaked tax documents used in the story. We get the details from three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter David Barstow, who led the Times’ investigation, and David Cay Johnston, another Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter and author of the new biography, "The Making of Donald Trump."

  • Donald Trump has threatened to sue The New York Times for publishing leaked pages from his tax returns, and the paper’s executive editor, Dean Baquet, said he would do so even if it meant risking jail time. We speak with two investigative journalists who report on Trump’s taxes and describe his legal threats in letters and phone calls, and their reaction. "Mr. Trump, especially given the positions he’s staked out ... would represent a really significant threat to the tradition of an independent free press in the United States," says David Barstow of The New York Times. "I think Donald Trump represents a clear and present danger to the liberties of the people, to the idea of the First Amendment," agrees David Cay Johnston, now a columnist for The Daily Beast.

  • On the campaign trail, Republican candidates are proposing massive new tax cuts for the rich despite growing economic inequality across the country. On Monday, Donald Trump unveiled a plan to lower the income tax rate to the lowest level since 1931, cut corporate taxes and abolish the estate tax. Meanwhile, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has proposed broad tax cuts for individuals and corporations as part of his economic plan. Under the plan, Bush himself would save millions of dollars in taxes. We speak to Robert Reich. He served as labor secretary under President Clinton and is a professor at the University of California, Berkeley. His newest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few."

  • "The same Republican leaders who decry any mention of amnesty for undocumented immigrants are more than ready to grant amnesty to corporate tax dodgers," writes Juan González in his latest New York Daily News column looking at the renewed push to give tax amnesty to General Electric, Apple, Microsoft and Pfizer. Over the past decade, multinational companies have funneled more than $2 trillion in profits out of the United States and parked it overseas. Much of it is labeled “deferred taxes” and invested to make more money. They keep it overseas to evade paying our 35 percent federal corporate tax. Meanwhile, they are lobbying fiercely in Washington for a huge one-year tax reduction to only 5 percent before they’ll agree to repatriate their money.

  • This week Burger King announced it is buying the Canadian coffee-and-donut chain Tim Hortons for $11.4 billion, creating the third-largest fast-food chain in the world. The newly created firm will be headquartered in Canada where the corporate tax rate is lower than in the United States. While Burger King denies it was motivated by lower taxes, the deal has revived the debate over so-called tax inversions, whereby U.S. companies use mergers to move overseas and avoid U.S. tax rates. In July, the Obama administration estimated tax inversions could cost the United States as much as $17 billion per year. One investor who stands to profit from the Burger King deal is President Obama supporter Warren Buffett. He lent Burger King $3 billion at a lucrative 9 percent interest rate to help complete the deal. We are joined by James Henry, an economist, lawyer, and senior adviser with the Tax Justice Network. He is former chief economist at McKinsey & Company.

  • As Burger King heads north for Canada’s lower corporate tax rate, we speak to Rolling Stone contributing editor Tim Dickinson about his new article, "The Biggest Tax Scam Ever." Dickinson reports on how top U.S. companies are avoiding hundreds of billions of dollars by parking their profits abroad — and still receiving more congressionally approved incentives. Dickinson writes: "Top offenders include giants from high-tech (Microsoft, $76 billion); Big Pharma (Pfizer, $69 billion); Big Oil (Exxon­Mobil, $47 billion); investment banks (Goldman Sachs, $22 billion); Big Tobacco (Philip Morris, $20 billion); discount retailers (Wal-Mart, $19 billion); fast-food chains (McDonald’s, $16 billion) – even heavy machinery (Caterpillar, $17 billion). General Electric has $110 billion stashed offshore, and enjoys an effective tax rate of 4 percent – 31 points lower than its statutory obligation to the IRS."

  • Watch part 2 of our discussion with Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, a professor at Columbia University and the World Bank’s former chief economist.

  • Millions of Americans are rushing to file their federal and state taxes today by the midnight deadline. But others are using the day to protest the use of tax dollars to fund war. The War Resisters League estimates at least 45 percent of the 2015 federal budget would be used for current and past military expenses, as well as interest on the national debt, some 80 percent of which stems from military spending. To voice their opposition, some Americans are taking a stand by personally refusing to pay their federal taxes. Lida Shao, a pre-med student at Columbia University, has been a war tax resister for three years with support from the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee. Shao joins us to discuss why Tax Day for her is a day of resistance.

  • After much drama, the "fiscal cliff" has come to an end — for now. We look at what is in the Senate deal approved by the House Tuesday night with economist Juliet Schor. The bill lays the groundwork for future battles between Democrats and Republicans over decisions on federal spending and debt, when much of the focus is expected to be on cuts to so-called entitlements. "The government needs to be spending to do the things the country needs," Schor says. "So we need to be spending on shifting into a clean energy paradigm." Schor is a professor of economics and sociology at Boston College and author of "True Wealth: How and Why Millions of Americans Are Creating a Time-Rich, Ecologically Light, Small-Scale, High-Satisfaction Economy." [includes rush transcript]

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