Biden blasts Amazon for not paying federal taxes, promises to 'put an end to that'

midian182

Posts: 6,560   +58
Staff member
A hot potato: Big tech companies that earn billions yet pay little or no federal income tax has long been a hot-button issue. Amazon, for example, paid $0 in taxes on more than $11 billion in profits in 2018 and even received a $129 million tax rebate from the government. Now, President Biden has called out the firm, saying, "I don't want to punish them, but that's just wrong."

During an address in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, yesterday, Biden mentioned Amazon twice when unveiling his infrastructure spending plan, which increases the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21%. It also closes a popular loophole in the tax code that allows companies to move profits overseas.

Biden cited a 2019 report highlighting 91 Fortune 500 companies that use various loopholes to avoid paying any federal income tax in 2018, "including Amazon."

"A fireman, a teacher paying 22% — Amazon and 90 other major corporations paying zero in federal taxes? I'm going to put an end to that," he said.

Amazon broke with tradition when it revealed details of its tax payments last year. The company's federal income tax expenses for 2019 reached over $1 billion, in addition to $2 billion in other types of federal taxes, but that still represented just 6% of its $14.5 billion operating income. As reported by GeekWire, federal tax laws allowed it to delay the bill, letting Amazon pay $162 million straight away and $900 million over time.

Responding to Biden's comments, Amazon pointed to a tweet by Jay Carney, the company's public policy and communications chief and a former White House press secretary under former President Barack Obama. He was also Biden's communications director.

"If the R&D Tax Credit is a 'loophole,' it's certainly one Congress strongly intended. The R&D Tax credit has existed since 1981, was extended 15 times with bi-partisan support and was made permanent in 2015 in a law signed by President Obama," Carney tweeted.

Prior to that tweet, Carney responded to Sen. Elizabeth Warren's criticism of Amazon's tax strategies. "Changing the law is certainly more productive than faulting companies for following it-and far better than threatening to break up American companies so they can't criticize elected leaders," he wrote.

Amazon is experiencing a PR nightmare right now. A recent report claimed its delivery workers must agree to AI surveillance or risk losing their jobs. It also tried to refute its poor reputation for workplace conditions by saying employees don't urinate in bottles, and Twitter has been swamped with fake workers defending Amazon amid a unionization push at an Alabama factory.

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Hexic

Posts: 910   +1,204
TechSpot Elite
""A fireman, a teacher paying 22% — Amazon and 90 other major corporations paying zero in federal taxes? I'm going to put an end to that," he said."

Should we insinuate that Amazon employees don't pay taxes then? No we shouldn't, because they do. Comparing an individual (specifically in a role that is politically charged to use) to an entire corporation on tax dues is never a fair comparison. Teachers, firemen, AND Amazon line workers all pay their respective taxes. Nice try there, bud.

If you're going to make comparisons, at least be accurate about it, and try not to be so obvious about your sleight of hand.

Come on man...
 

tskacoustic

Posts: 8   +18
""A fireman, a teacher paying 22% — Amazon and 90 other major corporations paying zero in federal taxes? I'm going to put an end to that," he said."

Should we insinuate that Amazon employees don't pay taxes then? No we shouldn't, because they do. Comparing an individual (specifically in a role that is politically charged to use) to an entire corporation on tax dues is never a fair comparison. Teachers, firemen, AND Amazon line workers all pay their respective taxes. Nice try there, bud.

If you're going to make comparisons, at least be accurate about it, and try not to be so obvious about your sleight of hand.

Come on man...

I am amazed that you have taken that viewpoint from reading this article. The comparison is clumsy, but it does not mention or insinuate anything about the taxes paid by the individuals working at Amazon.
 

Hexic

Posts: 910   +1,204
TechSpot Elite
I am amazed that you have taken that viewpoint from reading this article. The comparison is clumsy, but it does not mention or insinuate anything about the taxes paid by the individuals working at Amazon.

When reading between the lines, the comparison is not only clumsy... It's completely false. My point of saying anything here, is that by making statements such as these - Masses of individuals don't think twice about fallacies such as these... And that impacts thought processes and decisions down the road.

If the premise is correct, but all logic within the explanation is wrong, is this still acceptable?

Critical thinking is... Critical. When you are making public comparisons to push a point (of which I agree with, btw), it's embarrassing that any political figure would make such a misstep.

This may seem like a small deal to you, but unfortunately this is more than that... Because using comparisons that literally can't be compared to push a point as a politician is simply sad, no matter what side of the aisle you are on.
 

pit1209

Posts: 147   +254
When reading between the lines, the comparison is not only clumsy... It's completely false. My point of saying anything here, is that by making statements such as these - Masses of individuals don't think twice about fallacies such as these... And that impacts thought processes and decisions down the road.

If the premise is correct, but all logic within the explanation is wrong, is this still acceptable?

Critical thinking is... Critical. When you are making public comparisons to push a point (of which I agree with, btw), it's embarrassing that any political figure would make such a misstep.

This may seem like a small deal to you, but unfortunately this is more than that... Because using comparisons that literally can't be compared to push a point as a politician is simply sad, no matter what side of the aisle you are on.
OK, so the president is explicitly implying that Amazon doesn't pay taxes, in contrast to important workers and individuals who do and from a very big portion of their salaries but you decide to make emphasis in that he tried to say that Amazon workers also don't pay taxes? something that we all know it isn't happening. In the end, what was your point?
 

Sean T

Posts: 38   +54
TechSpot Elite
I'm all for it. Tax the hell out of all these liberal run companies. The irony that these CEO's get up and try to be champions for the people while simultaneously setting their companies up to avoid income taxes. With so many of these elitist running these companies, I've decided to support a 25% net worth tax on all individuals worth more than $500 million. Take it all from them. Then let's see if they will be so elitist then. I'm tired of those elitist who used the system to get filthy rich complaining, AFTER they've obtained their wealth, that people need to pay more taxes. Where were they when they were starting from scratch and building their wealth....
 

Hexic

Posts: 910   +1,204
TechSpot Elite
OK, so the president is explicitly implying that Amazon doesn't pay taxes, in contrast to important workers and individuals who do and from a very big portion of their salaries but you decide to make emphasis in that he tried to say that Amazon workers also don't pay taxes? something that we all know it isn't happening. In the end, what was your point?

No, you misread. Corporate taxes don't work like private citizen taxes. Therefore, comparing private citizen taxes (teachers, firefighters) to corporate taxes (Amazon) can't be done. Which is what happened. He's comparing an apple to a cannonball, and saying that they are the same exact thing. If I've still lost you, I'm not sure what else to spell out here.

I've stated my point numerous times now - but I'll simplify even moreso:
(1) Accuracy is important.
(2) Don't make false comparisons.
(2a) The general populace is dim-witted and will believe said false comparisons.
(3) As someone in a position of power - do better.
 

George Keech

Posts: 16   +15
Wait a minute so Biden said that he will impose tariffs if UK (and other European countries) make Amazon, Google and Facebook pay tax on money owed in the country. Yet its a bit issue if they don't pay tax on money internally. bit double standards isn't it.

Companies should pay tax in countries they earn it, especially given how many shops have been lost in the last year to online competitors
 

Irata

Posts: 1,295   +2,070
Should we insinuate that Amazon employees don't pay taxes then? No we shouldn't, because they do. Comparing an individual (specifically in a role that is politically charged to use) to an entire corporation on tax dues is never a fair comparison. Teachers, firemen, AND Amazon line workers all pay their respective taxes. Nice try there, bud.

If you're going to make comparisons, at least be accurate about it, and try not to be so obvious about your sleight of hand.

Come on man...
So wait - the people who work for me (all of them that can‘t offshore their profits) by providing goods and services all pay taxes, so I shouldn‘t have to. After all, I help create tax paying jobs.

See how that sounds ? This is what your post sounded like.
 

Bobbydpue

Posts: 45   +39
Why is the president suddenly interested in changing tax laws that have been in place for years?
Why wasn't this addressed when he was vice president?
Why now?
Is this about making people pay their fair share or about looking good for reelection?

The tax code is what encourages companies to set up shop in specific places and somehow that encouragement is wrong even though it went through the political process to get approved.
 
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wiyosaya

Posts: 5,718   +3,927
So wait - the people who work for me (all of them that can‘t offshore their profits) by providing goods and services all pay taxes, so I shouldn‘t have to. After all, I help create tax paying jobs.

See how that sounds ? This is what your post sounded like.
I agree. The point that seems to escape some people is that Amazon is a behemoth making behemoth profits, and there are laws to tax those profits. Amazon has been able to evade those taxes on its profits by finding loopholes in the law. Such loopholes are typically only available to the wealthiest strata. So, even though I am loathed to side with Amazon, Congress really needs to pass a law that closes those loopholes and is carefully structured to be free of loopholes - maybe specifically ensuring that loopholes are not available only to those that can afford them.

I would not be surprised if those loopholes include tax breaks for donations to charitable organizations - such as those donations given when you order through http://smile.amazon.com I have been avoiding Amazon for many purchases recently, however, when I do order, I order through http://smile.amazon.com and have chosen "The Nature Conservancy" as my non-profit for Amazon's donation. TNC has, according to Amazon statistics, received in excess of $500M in donations from them over the last few years. I like that money going to them - it is far more than TNC could raise on its own, and I think TNC is a worthy charity. However, I would hate to see donations of that magnitude dry up because Congress closed a loophole in an obtuse manner.

Then again, expecting politicians to have brains is perhaps something that is much more than can be hoped for.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 5,718   +3,927
I'm all for it. Tax the hell out of all these liberal run companies. The irony that these CEO's get up and try to be champions for the people while simultaneously setting their companies up to avoid income taxes. With so many of these elitist running these companies, I've decided to support a 25% net worth tax on all individuals worth more than $500 million. Take it all from them. Then let's see if they will be so elitist then. I'm tired of those elitist who used the system to get filthy rich complaining, AFTER they've obtained their wealth, that people need to pay more taxes. Where were they when they were starting from scratch and building their wealth....
Liberals, liberals, liberals. Do you check under the bed for them when you go to sleep at night? 🤣

You would be surprised, I bet, how many of those same liberals WANT to be taxed more - at least in part because they realize full well that they have much more than they will ever need; however, it is typically lawmakers with a more conservative bent that champion lower taxes on such individuals and behemoth companies like Amazon.
 

Squid Surprise

Posts: 3,871   +2,929
While Amazon (and other corporations) should be paying SOME taxes, it is important to understand the reasons as to why they don't pay very much (or none at all in some cases)...

Reason 1: They stimulate the economy (some would argue they ARE the economy) and each employee makes a salary - paid by the corporation - a % of which goes to the government as taxes.

--> Amazon has over a million employees - that's a LOT of taxes being paid - albeit indirectly - by Amazon to the government.

Reason 2: The very real possibility that if they are taxed too onerously, they will simply pack up and move to a nation with a lower (or nonexistent) tax rate.

--> While this is probably not feasible for Amazon, many other corporations have taken this approach.

Reason 3: Bribery/Coercion of specific politicians/officials

--> Obviously this can never be proven - but if you've watched any TV, you know it happens :)

Reason 4: Probably other stuff I'm too lazy to bother typing...

 

Hexic

Posts: 910   +1,204
TechSpot Elite
So wait - the people who work for me (all of them that can‘t offshore their profits) by providing goods and services all pay taxes, so I shouldn‘t have to. After all, I help create tax paying jobs.

See how that sounds ? This is what your post sounded like.

I never once stated that Amazon shouldn't pay additional taxes - none of my comments have pertained to their "duty to pay" as a corporation.

My comments are that based of logical fallacies and poor comparisons utilized to push the agenda, not the agenda itself. As stated above, I've agreed that Amazon (corporate) does need to pay more taxes. Which is an entirely different conversation all together.

It's important to separate those two critical points, as they are entirely independent of each other.
 

kevbev89

Posts: 265   +218
I never once stated that Amazon shouldn't pay additional taxes - none of my comments have pertained to their "duty to pay" as a corporation.

My comments are that based of logical fallacies and poor comparisons utilized to push the agenda, not the agenda itself. As stated above, I've agreed that Amazon (corporate) does need to pay more taxes. Which is an entirely different conversation all together.

It's important to separate those two critical points, as they are entirely independent of each other.

I think it is just the way you expressed your point in your initial posts was not very clear

I'm all for it. Tax the hell out of all these liberal run companies. The irony that these CEO's get up and try to be champions for the people while simultaneously setting their companies up to avoid income taxes. With so many of these elitist running these companies, I've decided to support a 25% net worth tax on all individuals worth more than $500 million. Take it all from them. Then let's see if they will be so elitist then. I'm tired of those elitist who used the system to get filthy rich complaining, AFTER they've obtained their wealth, that people need to pay more taxes. Where were they when they were starting from scratch and building their wealth....

Pretty sure all big companies regardless of political affiliation do this....
 
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mctommy

Posts: 381   +113
While Amazon (and other corporations) should be paying SOME taxes, it is important to understand the reasons as to why they don't pay very much (or none at all in some cases)...

Reason 1: They stimulate the economy (some would argue they ARE the economy) and each employee makes a salary - paid by the corporation - a % of which goes to the government as taxes.

--> Amazon has over a million employees - that's a LOT of taxes being paid - albeit indirectly - by Amazon to the government.

Reason 2: The very real possibility that if they are taxed too onerously, they will simply pack up and move to a nation with a lower (or nonexistent) tax rate.

--> While this is probably not feasible for Amazon, many other corporations have taken this approach.

Reason 3: Bribery/Coercion of specific politicians/officials

--> Obviously this can never be proven - but if you've watched any TV, you know it happens :)

Reason 4: Probably other stuff I'm too lazy to bother typing...

As for Reason 1, so smaller employers do not stimulate the economy? Or pay FICA? How about the impact Amazon has in decimating smaller players throughout the US?

Totally wrong on Reason 2, they still need to pay taxes on money earned in a given country.
 

sreams

Posts: 114   +181
I'm all for it. Tax the hell out of all these liberal run companies. The irony that these CEO's get up and try to be champions for the people while simultaneously setting their companies up to avoid income taxes. With so many of these elitist running these companies, I've decided to support a 25% net worth tax on all individuals worth more than $500 million. Take it all from them. Then let's see if they will be so elitist then. I'm tired of those elitist who used the system to get filthy rich complaining, AFTER they've obtained their wealth, that people need to pay more taxes. Where were they when they were starting from scratch and building their wealth....

How are you "avoiding income taxes" when you are paying exactly what the law requires?
 

sreams

Posts: 114   +181
Liberals, liberals, liberals. Do you check under the bed for them when you go to sleep at night? 🤣

You would be surprised, I bet, how many of those same liberals WANT to be taxed more - at least in part because they realize full well that they have much more than they will ever need; however, it is typically lawmakers with a more conservative bent that champion lower taxes on such individuals and behemoth companies like Amazon.

You do realize that anybody who actually wants to be taxed more can simply make donations to the Treasury. Somehow I think most who make proclamations like this aren't actually being honest.
 

Irata

Posts: 1,295   +2,070
While Amazon (and other corporations) should be paying SOME taxes, it is important to understand the reasons as to why they don't pay very much (or none at all in some cases)...

Reason 1: They stimulate the economy (some would argue they ARE the economy) and each employee makes a salary - paid by the corporation - a % of which goes to the government as taxes.

--> Amazon has over a million employees - that's a LOT of taxes being paid - albeit indirectly - by Amazon to the government.

Reason 2: The very real possibility that if they are taxed too onerously, they will simply pack up and move to a nation with a lower (or nonexistent) tax rate.

--> While this is probably not feasible for Amazon, many other corporations have taken this approach.
Just a quick comparison: Walmart paid $64B in corporate taxes between 2008 and 2016/17. Amazon paid 1.4B during the same period.

Walmart also employs 1.5 Million in the US, 2.2 Million world wide. I could not find how many employees Amazon has in the US (numbers given are world wide.

The next question is what exactly should they move to other countries ? Their own brand articles are not made in the US, doubtful they could move their cloud data centers anywhere else and they need their distribution centers and delivery drivers to supply all the Chinese made goods they sell.
 

hahahanoobs

Posts: 3,265   +1,421
Why is the president suddenly interested in changing tax laws that have been in place for years?
Why wasn't this addressed when he was vice president?
Why now?
Is this about making people pay their fair share or about looking good for reelection?

The tax code is what encourages companies to set up shop in specific places and somehow that encouragement is wrong even though it went through the political process to get approved.
It's been 3 months. I doubt this anything to do with 2024.
These are loopholes.
Biden just happens to have had enough. It's not easy taking money out of company pockets. He may not even succeed.
 

gamerk2

Posts: 497   +388
Liberals, liberals, liberals. Do you check under the bed for them when you go to sleep at night? 🤣

You would be surprised, I bet, how many of those same liberals WANT to be taxed more - at least in part because they realize full well that they have much more than they will ever need; however, it is typically lawmakers with a more conservative bent that champion lower taxes on such individuals and behemoth companies like Amazon.

*raises hand*

I make close to 100k/year. I don't own a house, and have very minimal living expenses.

I made a profit of $25 come tax time.

Yeah, the tax system is broken. I'm the exact type of person who should be paying a couple grand more then I am (and frankly, I can trivially afford it).
 

mctommy

Posts: 381   +113
*raises hand*

I make close to 100k/year. I don't own a house, and have very minimal living expenses.

I made a profit of $25 come tax time.

Yeah, the tax system is broken. I'm the exact type of person who should be paying a couple grand more then I am (and frankly, I can trivially afford it).
But did you pay any FIT?
 

gamerk2

Posts: 497   +388
Reason 1: They stimulate the economy (some would argue they ARE the economy) and each employee makes a salary - paid by the corporation - a % of which goes to the government as taxes.

--> Amazon has over a million employees - that's a LOT of taxes being paid - albeit indirectly - by Amazon to the government.

Taking that argument to it's logical extreme: We should eliminate all taxes, since all people stimulate the economy through their spending.

Hence the fallacy. And that's before you even consider how Amazon suppresses wages to increase it's profits (which as you noted would suppress economic growth) or how many local jobs were lost (again: Economic activity) when Amazon came in and undercut local delivery jobs.

Plus the fallacy that increasing taxes would cause job losses, which they wouldn't. Corporations are *very* well optimized; if they could make more money by laying off additional employees, they already would have done so. Lowing their net profits to *only* 40 billion or something like that wouldn't result in a single job loss that wouldn't have occurred otherwise.

This is the exact thinking that is driving the US into an economic black hole. Outside of Clinton (who ignored this way of thinking), no one has been able to sustain 3% GDP growth for more then a single year since this became the dominate way of thinking in the 80's.

Reason 2: The very real possibility that if they are taxed too onerously, they will simply pack up and move to a nation with a lower (or nonexistent) tax rate.

--> While this is probably not feasible for Amazon, many other corporations have taken this approach.

And? What would ultimately happen is the unfilled demand for whatever services packed up and left would be filled by someone else. That's how Capitalism works.

Same reason why some businesses still work in places like New York and California. Sure, the tax rate is higher, but you have a ton of potential customers you don't have access to if you go to say Mississippi. Same deal here: The US has too many high-paying customers to allow these jobs to pick up and leave.

[Outsourcing is a separate issue, and one easily solved: Just mandate that any business that wants to do business within the US pays all it's workers, including overseas ones, the equivalent to US Minimum Wage plus Benefits. Outsourcing solved.]

Reason 3: Bribery/Coercion of specific politicians/officials

--> Obviously this can never be proven - but if you've watched any TV, you know it happens :)

Not "bribes", "Campaign Contributions". Big difference.
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