Why Bernie Sanders is Wrong About Amazon

Misplaced anger. That seems to be a Bernie Sander specialty. Is it Amazon’s fault they owed no federal taxes for last year? Or for 2017?

For the six years from 2011-2016, Amazon averaged paying an 11.4% federal income tax rate. If they were an individual instead of a corporation, that would put them somewhere between the 90th and 95th percentile. In other words, more than 90% of American taxpayers pay an effective federal income tax rate (after deductions and credits) of less than 10% of their income. Amazon was absolutely paying their fair share.

RELATED: Bernie, Where Are Your Damn Tax Returns?

Until the massive tax giveaway to corporations in the tax cut passed by the Republican Congress and signed by President Donald Trump in December 2017.

That tax cut dropped Amazon’s tax rate from 35% to 21%, a reduction of 14%. Amazon paid taxes an approximately 12.4% lower effective tax rate after the cut. The math is pretty simple. If they paid at an 11.4% effective rate before, and they received a 14% tax cut, they were going to pay zero taxes unless something else in the tax process changed.

The Republican Congress promised to close “a slew of tax loopholes that allow profitable companies to routinely avoid paying federal and state income taxes on almost half of their profits.”

According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), they did not close any.

Bernie Sanders is parroting Donald Trump by bashing Amazon as a tax deadbeat. But Amazon did not employ any dirty tricks, or set up offshore tax havens, or perform a corporate inversion, or act in any of the other ways corporations do seeking to avoid paying taxes.

The federal government, via a tax cut enacted by Republicans over almost unanimous Democratic opposition, effectively told Amazon, “Please, your money is no good here. It is all on the house (or in this case, House of Representatives). Our treat!” 

Bernie Sanders bashes Amazon. Donald Trump bashes Amazon. Amazon cannot pay a bill they do not owe.

RELATED: Let’s Talk About That Day You Found Bernie Sanders in Your Pool?

It is also important to note in these discussions that Amazon employs more than 600,000 people, many of them in distribution centers and call centers located in areas desperate for jobs. And that each of those distribution centers created good-paying construction jobs when being built. All of them pay state and federal income taxes and generate sales tax revenue when they spend their paychecks. That spending creates more jobs in the businesses where they paychecks are spent, and all those people pay state and federal taxes, and on the economy goes.

And contrary to what President Trump might say…

…the United States Postal Service does NOT lose a fortune doing business with Amazon. The Postal Service’s package delivery segment generated $19.6 billion in revenue in 2017 ($7 billion from Amazon) and generated revenue of $2.1 billion. The Postal Service had a $2.7 billion loss in 2017 due to plunging first class mail delivery (down $1.87 billion) and being forced by Congress to prepay retiree’s health benefits. Looking at it that way, the package delivery segment is the only thing keeping the Postal Service alive, and Amazon is their largest package customer.

RELATED: Trump’s 20 Biggest LIES

Bernie Sanders is not wrong about the need for corporations to pay their fair share in federal taxes. But it was Republicans in the House and Senate who wiped-out Amazon’s tax bill. And it was Donald Trump, the presumed 2020 Republican nominee, who signed that tax cut into law. It was the Republican-controlled House and Senate who mysteriously forgot all about their pledge to close corporate loopholes as soon as the 51st vote was cast in the Senate to ratify the tax cut.

Bernie Sanders needs to stop demonizing this job-creating American corporation and start demonizing the Republicans willfully emptying the federal coffers.



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