Corporate Share of Cost of Government

I was looking into what has happened to the share of taxes paid by corporations, and came across this interesting article, The 50-Year Swindle. Here are a few excerpts:

Year by year during the last half of the twentieth century, Congress and the Internal Revenue Service have shifted the national tax burden away from corporations and onto the backs of individuals and families.

The numbers are painfully simple. After World War II, corporations and individuals carried the tax burden together. Year by year, this has been altered until the corporate-individual split is now closer to 20-to-80–and guess who pays the 80 percent?

In 1953, if you count only income taxes, not various other excises, sales taxes, and special duties, individuals and families paid 59 percent of federal revenues and corporations 41 percent, according to The Statistical Abstract of the United States. By the latest confirmed figures in the Abstract, the corporate share has dropped from 41 to 20 percent, while that of individuals has increased from 59 to 80 percent.

On the flip side, it has made corporations steadily larger and more powerful. This has led to the “legal corruption” of huge campaign contributions that accelerated the ability of corporations to avoid more and more of their responsibility for keeping the country’s civic system in decent economic health.

The half-century of stealth attacks have had the insidious effect of conditioning most of the public to accept seemingly unconnected annual changes that, with time, look like acts of God or some force of economics beyond human intervention.

The big swindle that shifts taxes from corporations to individuals is concealed by another myth that politicians keep drumming into the American consciousness: The citizens of the United States are being crushed by ever-rising tax burdens. We are told that we’re all taxed to the eyebrows and this must be changed. It is almost mandatory rhetoric in every election campaign.

But, according to the Century Foundation (formerly the middle-of-the-road Twentieth Century Fund) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), of all the industrialized democracies, the United States is near the bottom in paying taxes when calculated as a percentage of the country’s total wealth, its Gross Domestic Product. Our total taxes as percentage of our GDP are 29.7 percent, Britain’s are 33.6 percent; Canada’s are 33.6 percent; Germany’s are 39 percent; and Sweden’s are 49.9 percent. If that makes us feel lucky, we need to add that all those other countries provide health, housing, and other services we do not.

Some ammunition for any of you who still bother to argue with right-wingers instead of just realizing that what they do is lay down a smokesreen of lies to cover what they are really doing… Much of this article does that — it refutes the arguments of the right-wingers point by point. Of course, by the time the article had been written all the arguments had shifted, because they were never meant as serious arguments at all.

Anyway, the article has some good numbers to help you understand what has been happening to the tax structure over time, and some good stories. A good read.