By Paul J. Nyden
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Citizen Action Group, a partner with Americans for Tax Fairness, released information on Monday revealing the average West Virginia taxpayer will pay an extra $621 in taxes for 2012.
That $621 will cover tax revenues that were lost because corporations and wealthy individuals use offshore tax havens, like the Cayman Islands, to avoid paying their taxes.
Each small business also will pay another $2,300 in taxes to make up for those lost revenues.
Gary Zuckett, CAG’s executive director, displayed a sign during a press conference at the state Capitol on Monday, which stated: “In the 1950s, corporations paid nearly a third of the federal government’s bills.
“Last year, corporate income taxes accounted for less than a tenth of Uncle Sam’s total revenue.”
Zuckett said, “With both our state and the nation facing such serous budget challenges, it’s no-brainer that we need to close these loopholes and stop letting large corporations avoid paying what they should.”
Zuckett cited examples, including:
| Pfizer, the world’s largest pharmaceutical company, made 40 percent of its sales in the U.S. during the past five years, but reported no taxable income. According to Pfizer’s own filings with the Security and Exchange Commission, the company operates 172 subsidiaries and keeps $73 billion deposited in foreign “tax havens.”
| Microsoft, the computer software company, avoided paying $45 billion in federal taxes during the past three years by using complicated accounting procedures to shift company income to Puerto Rico, which has tax laws far more “friendly” to big companies.
Ted Boettner, executive director of the West Virginia Center on Budget & Policy, said, “West Virginia still gives $150 million a year in various tax cuts and tax credits to businesses.
“The state also lost $175 million a year by cutting the food tax. That amount has not been made up.”
The state’s education system, Boettner said, has lost $35 million in revenues recently. “Tuition in colleges is skyrocketing, building up more debt on the backs of our students.”
The state, Boettner said, needs more money for critical programs, such as: building roads and bridges, maintaining schools and paying for fire and police protection.
More information on the increasing costs taxes paid by average citizens is available in the U.S. Public Interest Research Group’s new pamphlet, “Picking Up the Tab 2013: Average Citizens and Small Businesses Pay the Price for Offshore Tax Havens.”
WV-CAG and West Virginia Patriots for Peace also held a demonstration in front of the U.S. Post Office in downtown Charleston late Monday afternoon, protesting that 57 percent of the current “federal discretionary budget” goes to the Pentagon.
“West Virginians will be paying more than $30 million in taxes this year to pay for the war in Afghanistan alone,” a CAG leaflet stated. “We could put hundreds of teachers into our classrooms and thousands of high school graduates in college.”
The groups also urged Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., to fight for “a peaceful budget that helps us rebuild communities and takes care of our citizens.”
Manchin has been a consistent and vocal critic of funds going to Afghanistan, which he believes are being wasted in a war that will not be won.