Robert McIntyre

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

Recent Articles

Multinational Tax Deform:

I n response to public outrage, congressional Democrats are clamoring for a crackdown on offshore tax dodges. They've focused particularly on the notorious Bermuda loophole, whereby unpatriotic companies such as Tyco, Stanley Works, Accenture (formerly Andersen Consulting) and PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting have or plan to set up mail drops in Bermuda to avoid taxes on their U.S. profits. Sensing the public mood, Bill Thomas, the California Republican who chairs the Committee to Bankrupt America (formerly the House Ways and Means Committee), says Republicans also want to address the problem. But while the gop bill offers lip service to halting multinational tax abuses, it consists mainly of measures that go in exactly the opposite direction. A little background: Over the past several years, the World Trade Organization has repeatedly ruled that a foolish $5 billion per year U.S. tax subsidy for Boeing, General Electric, Caterpillar and a handful of other big exporters violates our...

The Taxonomist: What If We'd Already Privatized Social Security?

L ate in the fall of 1999, presidential candidate George W. Bush began talking up the idea of investing the Social Security Trust Fund in the stock market. What would have happened if his wish had immediately come true? Bush's idea was -- and apparently still is -- that invested in stocks, Social Security could earn such a high rate of return that all of the program's long-term financial problems would be solved. As he put it on Meet the Press on Nov. 21, 1999, shifting toward personal stock-market investment accounts was necessary "in order to make sure there are benefits available in the long term." Bush's argument has some gaping holes. He double counts payroll taxes as available both for stock market investments and to pay benefits for current retirees. He also fails to explain how a (supposed) boost in Social Security's investment return would somehow make future benefits more affordable. (Gee, if that works, why not just arbitrarily raise the interest rate the government pays to...

The Taxonomist: Jim McGreevey, Working-Class Hero

S uppose you're a governor and your staff has just informed you that most of the biggest corporations doing business in your state have cooked their books so severely that they pay virtually nothing in state income taxes. Do you holler, "Hallelujah! Hunt 'em up and have 'em over for a campaign fundraiser!"? Well, that would be one common reaction. But it's not how newly elected New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey responded this year. Like just about every state in the country, New Jersey has been struggling with huge revenue shortfalls lately. Unlike almost every other state, however, New Jersey has a governor brave enough to successfully take on the corporate tax dodgers. As the economy soared in the second half of the 1990s, most governors and state legislators watched idly -- or acted complicitly -- as their corporate income taxes were eroded by aggressive tax-sheltering schemes promoted by the major accounting firms. State treasuries have been victimized not only by the infamous...

The Taxonomist: Sam's Amazing $5,000 Dream Coat

Y ou can hardly pick up the newspaper these days without reading about some freshly discovered corporate tax shelter scam, whether it's an Enron-style tax-haven subsidiary or a Bermuda shell company. The Bush administration and House Republicans, who generally support these kinds of tax abuses, have been in full stall mode, hoping to ride out the storm of public outrage without having to take serious action. The House Tax Shelter Committee (formerly the Ways and Means Committee) has been killing time by holding a series of subcommittee hearings on various international tax questions, featuring witnesses from tax-avoiding companies and their trade associations, accounting firms and Republican-oriented think tanks. One of those hearings, which might have been titled "Lies from Former Chairmen," led off with testimony from former Reps. Sam Gibbons (D-Fla.) and Bill Archer (R-Texas). Gibbons has long argued that the United States should scrap the corporate income tax in favor of a value-...

The Taxonomist: Alaska's Infinite Regress

R ecognizing that an informed public generally likes progressive taxes, Republicans prefer to lie about the impact of their tax ideas. Take, for example, Arizona Senator Jon Kyl, who recently claimed that the federal estate tax on the largest 2 percent of estates isn't paid by rich "fat cats," it's paid by "schoolteachers...airline pilots...and mechanics." Or President George W. Bush, who insisted that his tax cuts for the rich will mainly reduce taxes for single mothers making $22,000 a year. Or House Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas, who boldly asserts that his proposal for a flat-rate wage tax, exempting all capital income, is "fair" and "progressive." In a notable exception to this normal lack of candor, here's the story of how the Republican-dominated Alaska legislature almost adopted an explicitly regressive state income tax. Alaska is one of only two states that lack both a statewide sales tax and a personal income tax (the other is New Hampshire). Instead, courtesy of...

Pages