Pulitzer winner explains why America’s corrupt tax system is so unfair and — thanks to Republicans — has become even worse
David Cay Johnston has been a vehement critic of the United States’ tax system, which he believes unfairly benefits the ultra-rich while burdening the poor and the middle class. And in a Tax Day 2019 column published in the New York Daily News, the 70-year-old journalist/author and Pulitzer Prize winner outlines some of the ways in which Republicans have made an unfair tax system even more unfair.
“The awful truth is that America has two income tax systems, separate and unequal,” Johnston explains. “One burdens most people. The other makes the rich much richer.”
Johnston takes dead aim at the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, explaining that the GOP-sponsored law gave substantial tax breaks to the ultra-rich while increasing the tax burden on the United States’ middle class.
“Under Trump’s 2017 tax law, enacted with only Republican votes, many of the deductions you used to enjoy are gone,” Johnston observes. “If you are a homeowner and pay less than $14,000 a year in mortgage interest, none of your interest or your property taxes are deductible. On the other hand, if you are Apple, Congress and Trump did you a $120 billion tax favor.”
Republicans, Johnston adds, gave “multinational corporations huge discounts.” For example, he writes, “Apple’s $88 billion tax bill was slashed to $38 billion.”
Further, Johnston writes, “Congress gave Apple” and other corporate giants “zero-interest loans for eight years as it delayed payment of the taxes until 2025. Investing the loan proceeds will earn Apple $70 billion. That, plus the tax bill discount, add up to a $120 billion tax favor for Apple.”
Johnston also notes that “the Trump tax law gave companies with untaxed profits a 57% discount on their taxes if they held the money in cash” and that “companies that invested in offshore factories got a bigger discount: 70%. Future profits earned offshore will never be taxed here in America.”
The San Francisco native points out that while middle class homeowners in the United States have lost many deductions they used to enjoy, “a real estate operator who buys buildings with no money down, as Trump has done, gets to deduct the supposed decline in the value of those buildings despite the fact that their value is rising.”
Johnston has written, more than once, that America’s poor are more likely to be audited by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) than the rich. And in his April 15 column, he laments, “This is Tax Day 2019, and I have awful news for you. While most of us will be fully taxed because the IRS knows our actual income, the super-rich can easily cheat. And they do.”
Johnston concludes his Tax Day 2019 column by posing the following question: “when will we shred the corrupt, fundamentally skewed tax system we have and build one that can truly make America great again?”