Massachusetts Fair Share

We stand up for a Massachusetts where everyone gets a fair shot, does and pays their fair share, and plays by the same rules.

What did Massachusetts do with that $3 billion?

By Media and Communications intern Jay Epstein

Excuse me, but did I misplace $3 billion?

Due to loopholes in the tax code corporations are able to get away with taking money that could be used for valuable state programs like education and infrastructure improvements. Corporate tax abuse takes many forms, with one being tax breaks with little to no oversight. Every year the state of Massachusetts gives business around $3 billion in state credits and tax breaks, and for a set of those tax breaks, we have no idea who gets what and whether they deserve it. The state’s auditor, Suzanne Bump, wants to change that.

“We need to be able to look at the source data,” Bump said of corporate returns. “We need to look at who a tax deduction is supposed to benefit, and if that deduction is meeting its intended goal.” Unsurprisingly, business leaders are not happy about the idea, calling it an “unnecessary risk”.

I could list many other forms of corporate tax abuse but luckily the Huffington Post has a nice little slide show of 8 Outrageous Corporate Tax Breaks (Watch it here).

One thing about the slideshow that immediately sticks out is the size of the numbers. They are massive, in the billions if not trillions. Interestingly enough, however, the media tends to focus on the “welfare fraud.”

While fraud is fraud, the scale matters. The figures for welfare abuse are miniscule compared to corporate tax fraud — usually around $100 and rarely more than $1000. Here is a good example of one involving a convenience store owner in Salem:

Published on December 26th, 2013 in the Herald, the article is about Peter John Jhonny Limat, who was “…found guilty this week of allowing some customers to charge $100 on their electronic benefits cards, purportedly for food, then giving the customer $50 in cash and keeping $50 for himself.” Limat faces two years in prison for the crime. (Here’s the full article)

In Florida in Septemeber a 23 year old woman was arrested for trying to seller her $100 EBT card for $50 and she made the local news for it. It must have been a slow news day if a $50 petty crime was on the news.

A Harrisburg, PA a man was sentenced to 90 days to one year in jail for welfare fraud of $41,000 over seven years, or around $5800 per year. Meanwhile, companies that invest in state and municipal bonds are exempt the interest they earn from those bonds, a loophole that has cost the government $58 billion over the past five years.

The opponents of welfare fraud may be up in arms “waste and abuse” in the system, but you never hear a peep from them about large corporations abusing the system. If welfare is so scrutinized, then why isn’t corporate welfare? Of course we all know the answer to that question: Powerful corporate lobbies. How is it fair that those on welfare are sent to jail for years for transactions in the thousands and are heavily berated for it yet those who could be stealing millions never hear a peep of criticism? Fraud is fraud, and everyone who commits it should be treated equally.

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This entry was posted on February 28, 2014 by in Uncategorized.
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