Robert McIntyre

Robert S. McIntyre is director of Citizens for Tax Justice and a contributing editor for The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

Free money: Take some.

S uppose the government decided to place bushel baskets full of cash at every street corner, with the following note: "Please read the attached instructions and take the appropriate amount, if any, from the basket. Write your name, address, and the amount you took on the sign-in sheet. WARNING! We will check one out of every 50 names, and anyone we find taking too much will have to give the money back." Would the feds really do something like this? Well, not exactly. But it's not all that far from how the government runs what has become its biggest cash transfer program for low-income families: the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The good news is that half of the people who take money out of the EITC basket do so honestly. The bad news is that the other half take more than they should. The EITC is a low-income wage supplement for families with children, run by the IRS as a "refundable" tax credit. (There's also a tiny credit for childless singles with very low income.) Almost all of...

Putting profits over patriotism.

I n a recent article in The New York Times , David Cay Johnston details how some sleazy American companies are reincorporating in Bermuda and other countries in order to avoid taxes. Insurance companies led the way a few years ago; and when Congress failed to take action, other patriotically challenged corporations followed suit. The ploy entails little more than some creative paperwork. In late 2000, for example, Silicon Valley computer-hard-drive maker Seagate Technology turned itself into a Cayman Islands "shell company" called "New SAC," whose operations, Seagate notes in its 2000 annual report, "are substantially identical to the operations of Seagate Technology before the transactions." In fact, these freshly minted offshore companies don't do anything at all in their new "home" countries. The chief financial officer for New Jersey-based Ingersoll-Rand, which expects to cut its U.S. taxes by $40 million a year by pretending to move to Bermuda, cheerfully admitted to the Times...

One for Oil

U ntil this February, I had no idea that we had an "assistant secretary of energy for fossil energy," although it turns out there's been one for decades. What does an ASOEFFE do? The current and ninth occupant of this position, Carl Michael Smith, helpfully provided a job description in a January 30 speech to the Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia. His role, he said, is to figure out "how best to utilize taxpayer dollars to the benefit of industry." Like so many Bush appointees, Smith has a long résumé of prior service -- president of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association, oil driller, chairman of the Southern States Energy Board's Coal and Advanced Power Systems Committee, secretary of energy for Oklahoma, and lawyer for oil companies. He also has some notably counterfactual views. "Our tax code is not real favorable to the petroleum and pipeline sector of our industry," Smith told his West Virginia audience. That's a real whopper. The unsurprising truth is...

Why Is the Right So Happy about Ted Kennedy?

According to press reports, Republican interest groups are "salivating" over a proposal by Senator Edward Kennedy to reduce the size of the Bush tax cuts. The Massachusetts Democrat wants to eliminate about $280 billion of the $1.35 trillion in tax reductions enacted last year. Kennedy calls for scrapping the cuts in the top three income-tax rates that are currently slated for 2004 and 2006. He also wants to drop the scheduled repeal of the estate tax, offering instead to exempt all but the biggest 0.3 percent of estates. "Kennedy's giving us just the opening we need," Daniel Mitchell of the Heritage Foundation gleefully told The Washington Post . Republican strategist Grover Norquist asserted: "If the 2002 election is about raising taxes, we will have a Republican Senate." It seems that the right is preparing to run a disinformation campaign of enormous proportions about what the relatively timid Kennedy plan would actually mean. Here are a few salient facts. Fully 97.5 percent of...

The Taxonomist:

Andy Sipowicz, NYPD Blue' s crusty curmudgeon with a heart of gold, has taken a second job, and I, for one, am pretty doggone disappointed with the circumstances. Since last September, there has been a welcome resurgence of popular support for public employees, at least the kind epitomized by the brave members of New York City's police and fire departments. So what were the scriptwriters of NYPD Blue thinking when they decided to turn the quasi-saintly Detective Sipowicz into a tax cheat? Andy (played by Dennis Franz) is now moonlighting eight hours a week as a caretaker for an eccentric, wealthy old lady. The main attraction of the job isn't just the ridiculous $100-an-hour pay rate, but the fact that all of that $40,000 a year will be paid in "under the table" cash. To be sure, Andy agonizes over taking the job. He worries about not seeing enough of his five-year-old son, and he finds the old lady to be extremely annoying. But neither he nor anyone else on the show seems to find it...

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