Last Thursday, at the sparsely attended “Continuing Revolution” Tea Party rally on Capitol Hill, we spoke to a number of attendees about the growing “Mainstreet Movement” against corporate tax dodgers. As we have reported extensively, thousands of profitable corporations have exploited corporate loopholes to pay far less than their fair share of taxes. Big corporations, like Boeing, CitiGroup, Bank of America, Arch Coal, ExxonMobil, and others have managed to escape paying a single dime in corporate taxes in recent years.
We asked Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) if he is concerned about corporate tax dodgers. Duncan replied that corporate taxes are actually too high. When we reminded him that many of the country’s largest and most profitable companies actually pay nothing, he was in disbelief. Eventually, Duncan conceded that he would have to “research that and get back with you”:
FANG: There’s been a liberal equivalent of the Tea Party, where folks are organizing and protesting because they don’t think that corporations are paying their fair share when we’ve got this deficit problem. To give you an example, GE, Bank of America, ExxonMobil, a lot of these big, very profitable companies haven’t paid anything in corporate taxes. Do you think those companies are paying their fair share?
DUNCAN: Sure I do. I think what we’ve got is a tax policy that needs a change that allows them to bring earnings they have in subsidiaries off shore back and invest them in this country at a lower tax rate. We are uncompetitive with the rest of the world.
FANG: But they’re already paying nothing.
DUNCAN: Well I’d have to research that. I don’t know that–
FANG: The New York Times had a big story I think earlier this week that GE paid nothing at all.
DUNCAN: I’m not sure of that, I’ll look into that and verify that. But what I’m saying is, we’re uncompetitive with the rest of the world with regard to corporate tax rate. We’ve got Canada that just lowered their corporate tax rate from whatever it was to eighteen point five and it’s going to fifteen percent next year.
FANG: How do you get lower than an effective tax rate of zero?
DUNCAN: Well like I said I don’t know that is an effective tax rate of zero. You have to look at the bigger picture and I’ll be glad to research that and get back with you.
Duncan’s belief that an effective tax rate of zero is still too high places him firmly within the consensus of the modern GOP. The day after the election last year, Tea Party Patriots leader Jenny Beth Martin told ThinkProgress that untaxed corporations — like GE or ExxonMobile — are actually taxed too much. Asked about Bank of America paying nothing in corporate taxes, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) replied that he thought corporate taxes are “too high.” Similarly, Newt Gingrich told ThinkProgress that corporate tax dodgers should be celebrated.