Robert McIntyre

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

Recent Articles

The Taxonomist

OIL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL It's been widely publicized that GOP vice presidential candidate Dick Cheney left his job as CEO of Halliburton with a pretty sweet severance package. Nobody's yet pointed out, however, that American taxpayers may have helped finance Cheney's good fortune. Last year the oil supply company reported $257 million in U.S. pretax profits to its shareholders. But rather than paying 35 percent of that in federal income taxes, Halliburton says it got an $85-million tax rebate from Uncle Sam! At least in 1999, this was one company that certainly didn't want to eliminate the IRS. THE DLC WAY Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle told a Democratic Leadership Council (DLC)-sponsored seminar on August 15 that our nation's next "critical step" should be to give more tax loopholes to the high-flying technology sector, including research tax credits, bigger depreciation write-offs, and tax breaks for donations of...

The Taxonomist

Lots of career employees at the IRS were annoyed at the partisan tone of the tax-rebate letters the agency mailed out in July. The IRS has a long apolitical tradition, and its workers felt uncomfortable with a letter that made them appear to be shilling for Republican policies. We are pleased to inform you that the United States Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed into law the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, which provides long-term tax relief for all Americans who pay income taxes. The new tax law provides immediate tax relief in 2001 and long-term tax relief for the years to come. As part of the immediate tax relief, you will be receiving a check in the amount of $____. Some Democrats in Congress objected to the letter, and New York Senator Charles Schumer even tried to cut off funds for the mailing. But in the end, the IRS itself found a way to even the score--by sending out a second>/I letter to 32 million tax filers who won't>/I___...

Tax Wars

N othing so neatly differentiates the presidential candidates as their views on taxes. George W. Bush offers a rather extreme version of what passes for "conservative" fiscal policy these days. This philosophy doesn't tout deficit spending per se , but holds that low taxes, particularly on the wealthy, are the Holy Grail. Many who support this approach hope to starve the government of revenues and eventually shrink public spending. Republican antitax activist Grover Norquist summarizes this position when he argues that "a small government with a big deficit is a lot better than a big government with no deficit." But others in the antitax camp, epitomized by former Representative Jack Kemp , offer the opposite theory. They believe that through the miracle of supply-side economics, tax cuts will so stimulate economic growth that revenues will go up and we will maintain or even expand government programs. Oddly enough, it's not uncommon to hear both conflicting...

The Taxonomist

E arlier this year, soaring gasoline and electricity prices had much of the public outraged at villainous energy profiteers. So, after careful study, the Johnny-one-notes in Washington, D.C., who run the Republican Party concluded that there are only two sensible responses to that particular (albeit since-subsided) "crisis": drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and cut taxes on oil companies and utilities. In August the House passed its version of the Bush energy plan--aka another tax-reduction bill--pretty much on a party-line vote. Republican spinmeisters, who always seem eager to deny the reality of what they're actually doing, insist that the bill is well-balanced, with 37 percent of the new tax breaks allegedly going to encourage conservation, 39 percent to help ensure energy "reliability," and a mere 24 percent for "production" incentives. Well, that's one way to look at it--if, for instance, you're willing to characterize "investment and production credits for...

The Taxonomist:

Many of the country's biggest corporations are once again paying little or nothing in federal income taxes, according to a new study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP). Corporations are supposed to pay 35 percent of their profits in taxes. But the 250 companies in ITEP's survey paid only 20.1 percent in 1998. That figure was down from 22.9 percent in 1996 and way below the 26.5 percent big companies paid back in 1988, when they had yet to figure out ways around the loophole-closing 1986 Tax Reform Act. Forty-one companies actually paid less than zero in federal income taxes for at least one year from 1996 to 1998. They reported a total of $25.8 billion in pretax profits. Rather than paying $9 billion in federal income taxes at the 35 percent rate, the companies enjoyed so many excess tax breaks that they received $3.2 billion in rebate checks from the U.S. Treasury. In other words, they made more money after taxes than before!...

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