A facebook friend of mine who happens to be an academic and a liberal (almost redundant, but not quite) linked to an article bewailing the fact that GE has managed to avoid income tax liabilities for several years. I’m particularly impressed by this part of the screed (in bold, for extra added gravitas):
We shouldn’t be firing teachers and taking health care away from children because GE is shirking on its responsibility to pay income tax.
Now, I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure there’s no responsibility to pay taxes that you don’t legally owe. The screed continues:
Of course the company line is that they’re just following the law. But we cannot treat them as mere bystanders.
Um… unless GE is actually writing the tax code (not the same thing as lobbying about it, by the way), they really are “mere bystanders” — interested bystanders, perhaps, but bystanders nonetheless. But that doesn’t matter! The government wants to spend more money, and I have a responsibility (if I’m a GE stockholder) to give it to them, whether I actually have that responsibility or not. But wait! There’s more:
As the Times article reported, General Electric has 975 employees in its tax department who are charged with spending half their time complying with the law and half their time “looking to exploit opportunities to reduce tax.”
The swine! Not salivating at the chance to pay taxes they don’t legally owe! By the way, “looking to exploit opportunities to reduce tax” might be what we call due diligence and taking care of shareholders. Dammit, don’t they realize that they exist as a means of funding teachers, health care, and the travel budget of the Assistant Undersecretary of Commerce?
So what if there are loopholes in the law that GE can exploit? The government’s intention was to take a big chunk of profit from business, and if GE has managed to thwart that, then by golly, they should just give up the scratch because we wants it, we does… nasty G.E.ses.
A sidebar at the site tells us that some 12,500 people have chosen to support this petulant frenzy. Frankly, it kind of makes me want to invest in GE. At least I know they’re trying to pay their stockholders — you know, the people who fund them. Now that’s fair.