I pay my taxes. Am I smart or a schmuck?


CTU President Karen Lewis with The Girl Talk host Erika Wozniak (left) and Joanna Klonsky. Not shown is co-host Jen Sebella. Photo: Fred Klonsky

A large crowd packed The Hideout last night for The Girl Talk. I expected a crowd since Erika and Jen’s guest was going to be CTU President Karen Lewis. We got there early to make sure we got some seats.

Since CTU members just voted to give the union leadership strike authorization, a yes vote that included all but less than 5% of those voting, her appearance at this north side bar attracted the media.

The conversation went from the serious political stuff to questions about what Karen binge watches and which celebrities she has a thing for. She named three and she shot a smile to her husband, Coach John, who was sitting in the second row.

One of the serious notes:

“Look,” Lewis said at one point. “I don’t have a problem paying taxes. That’s how a community pays for schools and roads and the stuff we all need.”

I couldn’t help thinking back to Donald Trump in the debate the night before. When Hillary Clinton suggested that Trump was hiding his tax returns because the self-proclaimed billionaire pays nothing in federal income taxes, he interrupted her to say it was because he was smart.

He’s smart and we’re schmucks?

Whether Donald Trump is smart or not is not for me to know. But he’s rich and pays no taxes because his daddy left him a lot of money and the tax system is rigged in favor of the people and the corporations run by folks in his class.


Aside from Trump’s personal income tax, let’s look at what corporations pay.

According to the Economic Policy Institute:

  • Corporate profits are way up, and corporate taxes are way down. In 1952, corporate profits were 5.5 percent of the economy, and corporate taxes were 5.9 percent. Today, corporate profits are 8.5 percent of the economy, and corporate taxes are just 1.9 percent of GDP.
  • Corporations used to contribute $1 out of every $3 in federal revenue. Today, despite very high corporate profitability, it is $1 out of every $9.
  • Many corporations pay an effective tax rate that is one-half (or less) of the official 35 percent tax rate.
  • As of 2015, U.S. corporations had $2.4 trillion in untaxed profits offshore. Another study, looking at S&P 500 companies, found they held $2.1 trillion as of 2014. This roughly five-fold increase from $434 billion in 2005 stems largely from anticipation of a tax holiday.

Trump may think he’s smart because in a rigged system he can get away without paying his share. But in a system rigged in favor of the rich, even a dumb-ass can hire tax lawyers.


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