Robert McIntyre

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

Recent Articles

Tax Missimplification

Two days after his re-election, President Bush offered the public some guidance on what he says will be a central goal of his second term: “tax simplification.” Bush said he wants to “encourage people to invest and save,” i.e., he favors still more tax cuts for the rich. He added that he'll propose a tax code that “rewards risk,” i.e., one that offers even more tax breaks to business. No surprises there. But as previously hinted, this time around Bush offered a twist: His plan will be “revenue neutral.” Of course, that requires raising taxes -- by a lot -- on everyone else to break even. The two leading right-wing proposals to replace the progressive income tax are a flat-rate wage tax and a high-rate national sales tax. Either would increase taxes on most Americans by thousands of dollars a year. That's not something that you'd think would be popular. In fact, while Bush only touched on these ideas during his campaign, the national-sales-tax scheme was put to the electoral test in...

It's Your Money They're Wasting

In September, my group, Citizens for Tax Justice, released a major study on corporate tax avoidance. We looked at 275 of the largest and most profitable Fortune 500 companies and found that almost a third managed to pay nothing (or less) in federal income taxes in at least one of the first three years of the Bush administration. Over that period, the 275 companies reported $1.1 trillion in pretax U.S. profits to their shareholders, but told the IRS that they'd made less than half of that. One company, General Electric, enjoyed $9.5 billion in tax breaks over the three years. And the lion's share of the blame for these outrages, and the concurrent collapse of corporate tax revenues, can be placed on President Bush and the GOP Congress, which put huge new corporate loopholes in place while refusing to crack down on offshore corporate tax sheltering and other abuses. Our study generated headlines nationwide. But the reactions from corporate America and our lawmakers have been...

Now for Some Bad News

Read my lips: I'll raise your taxes -- a lot. Thus, paraphrased only slightly, speaks George W. Bush to Middle America. Yet many of his intended middle-class victims don't seem to hold it against him. Or perhaps they haven't been listening hard enough. In his speech at the Republican convention, Bush called for a “simpler, fairer pro-growth [tax] system” and promised to “lead a bipartisan effort to reform and simplify the federal tax code” if he's re-elected. Noble sentiments to be sure. Heck, I've devoted my career to exactly those goals. But anyone who's been paying attention knows that when Bush says “fairer,” he means cutting taxes on the rich. When he says “simpler,” he means cutting taxes on the rich. And when he invokes economic growth, well, he means tax cuts not just for rich people but for corporations, too. This time around, however, Bush says that he doesn't plan to put his tax cuts for the wealthy on the national credit card. A senior administration official told The...

A Payday Bonus

Russell Long was hardly the darling of liberal tax reformers when he chaired the Senate Finance Committee in the 1970s. In fact, we usually saw him as a toady for corporate special interests. But as the genial Louisiana Democrat liked to say, even a blind hog finds an acorn once in awhile. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), first adopted at Long's instigation in 1975, was the late senator's acorn. And like an acorn, the EITC has become a mighty oak. Today, it is the federal government's largest cash-assistance program for low- and moderate-income families with children. It enjoys broad popular support, in large part because, unlike welfare, you have to work to get it. (Contrary to the myth that the EITC enjoys bipartisan support, that feature doesn't always impress GOP lawmakers in Washington.) Like any program, the EITC has its problems, but overall it's one of the big success stories of the past quarter-century in making life better for hard-pressed working families. Back in 1976...

The Taxonomist

Do our big accounting firms deserve some of the blame for the demise of a free press, and even democracy itself, in Russia? This thought first occurred to me when I stumbled on the fact that PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is the accounting firm for Yukos, the huge, troubled Russian oil company. As has been reported, Yukos' principal owner is now in jail on massive tax-evasion charges, other corporate officers have fled the country to escape arrest, and the company's potential bankruptcy has helped push up the world price of oil to record highs. The plot thickened when I discovered that Yukos' ownership runs through a chain of tax havens, leading ultimately to a post-office box in tiny Gibraltar. That shell company's auditors include not only PwC but also KPMG and Ernst & Young -- two other U.S. accounting firms neck deep in helping U.S. corporations use offshore tax shelters to hide their income from the Internal Revenue Service. But let's back up a little. … *** Do our big...

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