Thursday, September 23, 2004

Financing Health Care

Actually the story in today's Wall Street Journal made no mention of health care. But it was the first thing that came to mind when I read it.

Eighty-two of the country's largest profitable corporations paid no federal income tax for at least one year of the Bush administration's first three years, a study found.

The study by Citizens for Tax Justice, a liberal-leaning think tank in Washington, and the affiliated Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, examined 275 Fortune 500 corporations with total cumulative profits of $1.1 trillion in 2001, 2002 and 2003. One-third paid no federal income taxes in at least one of those years, and many received refunds of taxes paid in prior years.
It's easy to see why 1) the federal deficit is rising out of control and 2) the middle class is being squeezed for every penny. Also of interest, since I'm very aware of what tax bracket I pay in was this:

The think tank's 1988 survey of large corporations found the overall effective tax rate was 26.5%; a survey of companies in 1996-98 found the rate dropped to 21.7%. The latest survey showed the effective rate fell to 17.2% in 2001-03.
Talk about tax relief! I'd love to be in the 17% bracket!

Now just imagine that the IRS got serious about ensuring that corporations paid their taxes, about closing loop holes. Imagine that Congress had the gonadal fortitude to pass legislation ensuring they paid taxes on foreign profits. Imagine what could be done with that money. It wouldn't fund universal health care, but it would make a serious dent in the bill. It could provide room to give the poor and the middle class a serious respite from rising effective tax rates.


But don't hold your breath.

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