Disney CEO Wishes upon a Star for Lower Taxes While Making Record Profit

Disney CEO Bob Iger played a sad tune on the world’s smallest violin earlier this week saying that corporate taxes, including his own, are just too high.

What a plight that must be, Bob, especially since your company only reported a (record) profit of $5 billion in the first two fiscal quarters of 2016! You lament that the U.S. corporate tax rate is “among the highest in the world, if not the highest” and claim that it makes you less competitive.

But let’s check the facts here, Pinocchio.

Nearly 20 percent of large U.S. corporations pay NOTHING in taxes. And out of the corporations that DO pay taxes, the majority of them fork over an average of only 22 percent. That is well below the 35 percent top corporate income tax rate.

Many corporations also exploit loopholes to pay very little in taxes, the most common one being taking advantage of foreign tax havens.

As it stands today, America’s top 50 companies hold $1.4 trillion in cash offshore. This is money that cannot be taxed until it is brought into the United States. However, corporations rarely do that unless Congress gives them yet another special tax break.

The bottom line is that these companies, Disney included, set up subsidiaries in places like Luxembourg to circumvent the system that every other hard-working American must abide by.

Their unpaid taxes could be used to invest in improvements to public necessities like roads, bridges, Medicare, education, and benefits for veterans. These are investments that the nation’s communities desperately need, the same communities that keep companies afloat through tax breaks and infrastructure grants to help build their facilities, including Disney’s massive theme parks.

Sen. Bernie Sanders has called Iger out in the past for his Scrooge McDuck-like business practices, including not just his behavior regarding taxes, but also not paying many of his employees a living wage. Iger took the pompous road and replied, “How many jobs have you created?”

CEOs and millionaires like to think that employers are the only people allowed to have a voice because they are the “job creators.” In their minds, they are doing the hiring, so they should call the shots.

Yet these bosses aren’t the ones digging through their couches looking for change to pay for bus fare. They aren’t the ones trying to convince a family member or a neighbor to watch their kids while they go to work because the cost of childcare is your own first born. They aren’t the ones selling household items and heirlooms on Craigslist come tax season to pay their bill.

CEOs will always have a huge, cushy pile of cash to fall back on, regardless of the amount of personal taxes they pay or corporate taxes paid by the firms they run. Regular Americans, however, don’t have that.

And it’s not because they don’t work hard enough, and it’s not because they made bad financial choices; it’s because the tax system is rigged to work for the ones who don’t need the help.

So yes, Iger, taxes are too high. But not yours.


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