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Outrageous: David Cay Johnston Explains How Big Corporations Withhold Your Taxes and Then Pocket Them

And other tales of legal corporate robbery.

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For the lobbyists, they take a very long-term view of this. They get a little change made this year and they say, “It’s no big thing!” A couple of years later, they get another one, and another one, and another one. After 40 years of doing this, you’ve had a very successful career. You’re very wealthy. You can retire. You’ve also managed to totally screw your fellow Americans.

JH: I want to talk about one of the practices you describe that I find to be... I don’t know, I’d say shocking, but I’m pretty hard to shock these days. You wrote about this in a Reuters column -- how in 16 states, big corporations collect state taxes from their employees and pocket them.

DCJ: It’s now up to 21 states. In 21 states, they’ve passed a law that says that taxes withheld from your paycheck, for the state, can be kept by the company. Now, every employer doesn’t get this windfall -- you have to have to get a deal from the government to do it -- 2,700 big companies, every big company you’ve ever heard of, General Electric, Procter and Gamble, Deutsche Bank, you name it, they’ve got these deals, where they get to keep the taxes. Billions of dollars are diverted this way. You know the best thing for the companies about this?

JH: What’s that?

DCJ: The workers don’t know, because once the taxes are withheld, the state government treats you as having paid your taxes. You paid your taxes. They just then give a credit to let the company keep the taxes. I’ve called journalists. I’ve called union people who negotiate union contracts. And they say, “What are you talking about?” I showed them the work I’ve done. They go, “Oh my God!” They have no idea that this is what’s happening, and the fact that it’s spread from the 16 states when I first wrote about this and it’s now grown to 21 – eventually, all of the 44 states with income taxes are going to allow this, if we don’t put a stop to it.

I really, seriously hope people read The Fine Print . I wrote this so you’d know about these things. If you don’t read it, you’re not going to know.  

Joshua Holland is Senior Digital Producer at BillMoyers.com, and host of Politics and Reality Radio. He's the author of The 15 Biggest Lies About the Economy. Drop him an email or follow him on Twitter

 
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