Tax Season is Upon Us. But Who Pays Taxes? And How Are They Spent?

Mark Dimondstein

March 15, 2023

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Working people, including postal workers, routinely pay taxes. We don’t have massive write-offs, offshore tax havens, untaxed stock incomes, tax avoidance trust funds, or high-priced lawyers.

But the billionaire U.S. oligarchs and corporate America do – all used to evade paying their fair share of taxes.

According to Americans for Tax Fairness, 26 top billionaires didn’t come close to the 20-30 percent tax rates postal workers pay. Between 2013 and 2018, Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Warren Buffett (Berkshire Hathaway), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Michael Bloomberg (Bloomberg LP), and Elon Musk (Tesla) paid less than a 2 percent tax rate on their obscene wealth. The people who can afford the most pay the least!

The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy reported that 55 corporations paid no federal taxes on 2020 profits. Many profitable companies actually received federal tax rebates. Food conglomerate Archer Daniels Midland received $164 million, FedEx $230 million, and Nike $109 million. Outrageous!

Moreover, we often don’t pay attention to how our taxes are spent by Congress.

The recently passed bipartisan $1.65 trillion Omnibus Budget Bill represents annual discretionary government spending. Over half, or $858 billion, is for “defense” spending: more than the next 11 highest defense spending countries combined. This military budget was an $80 billion increase from 2022, and $45 billion more than the Pentagon requested. Over half of the military budget goes to private military contractors, like Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Meanwhile, the Department of Defense estimates that 24 percent of active duty personnel and their families face chronic food insecurity!

Five Star General and Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower observed that: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed… It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.” The $80 billion increase from 2022 alone could pay for the hiring of 873,000 elementary school teachers, 9.5 million public housing units, or VA healthcare for over five million veterans.

In his 1960 farewell speech, Eisenhower presciently warned, “We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” Tragically, his wisdom has gone unheeded.

The insights of highly decorated Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler in his book “War is a Racket,” help explain why. Referring to his responsibility as a top military leader, he wrote: “I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service, and during that period I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers.”

Even the conservative Cato Institute (an enemy of unions and our public Postal Service), provided important information in an article “750 Bases in 80 Countries is Too Many for Any Nation: Time for the U.S. to Bring Its Troops Home.” The institute estimates the bases cost taxpayers $80 billion a year and that the U.S. has more overseas bases than every other country combined. China has five.

It is in the interests of postal workers and all working people at home and abroad to stop the madness of the bloated military budget and domination by the militaryindustrial complex. As called for by APWU and AFL-CIO convention resolutions, let’s bring the war dollars home, insist that our tax dollars are used to improve our dayto- day lives and collective societal needs, such as health care, education, public transportation, affordable housing, childcare, food, clean water, addressing the climate crisis, and safe, good paying union jobs, including for veterans. Let tax season remind us that the billionaire class must be forced to pay their share! ■


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