i9 Fact Checker: Ad from outside group slightly misleads viewers on billionaire’s tax payments

Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 9:24 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Tax March is spending $2 million to air a political ad, which makes the argument billionaires and corporations should pay more taxes. The ad, which is running on television and online, is running across the county. But, the group is specifically targeting Washington D.C., Wisconsin, New York and Iowa.

Source: Tax March

Tax March, which was created in 2017, began with protesters calling for President Donald Trump to release his tax returns. The group has since organized people to repeal Republican tax reforms from 2017 and support policies taxing wealthier Americans. Tax March has organized demonstrations across the United States, including Cedar Rapids.

Claim #1: But, billionaires and big corporations have avoided paying taxes for years.

Analysis: The ad is specifically citing a claim from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, which describes itself as a non-partisan think tank. However, other media outlets have described it as liberal. President Joe Biden has cited the same analysis as well in his first address to a joint session of congress.

The report uses income tax notes from annual financial reports filed by publicly traded U.S based corporations. It says at least 55 companies are paying $0 in federal income taxes. Those include FedEx, Nike and Dish Network. It also points out these companies received tax rebates.

Propublica was given private tax documents, which show billionaires avoiding tax payments while growing their wealth each year legally. Those include Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Michael Bloomberg and George Soros. However, the reporting from ProPublica shows Billionaires still paid money in taxes. Corporations were also paying other types of taxes.

Conclusion: The word income taxes is missing in this claim, which is why we’re giving it a B.

Claim #2: President Joe Biden’s Plan makes the rich pay their fair share so we can cut taxes for families with children and create millions of good jobs.

Analysis: The plan the ad is referring to is two different pieces of legislation: Joe Biden’s original infrastructure plan and reconciliation package. Biden’s original infrastructure plan would increase taxes on corporations and individuals. His original plan would increase the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%, a rollback from 2017 Republican tax reforms. It would also tax long-term capital gains, think assets like stocks or bonds, as regular income for those making more than $1 million dollars. But, there is no way to guarantee the wealthy couldn’t find another way to avoid paying taxes.

The money raised from this new revenue would pay for traditional infrastructure projects and a list of democratic priorities including funding public housing, research on climate change and grants to historically black colleges. Biden’s original plan also would help raise wages for workers providing care for older adults or people with disabilities. The Tax Policy Center, which is a think tank located in Washington D.C, reported Biden’s original infrastructure plan would extend multiple tax credits. That includes the child tax credit.

However, the plan President Joe Biden has endorsed today is the bipartisan infrastructure bill, not his original plan. The bipartisan bill includes none of the increases in taxes that Biden’s original plan contained and sticks to traditional infrastructure. Biden’s $3.5 Trillion Reconciliation Package does contain many of the priorities left out of the bipartisan infrastructure plan, like increasing taxes on the wealthy. However, the plan is likely to change.

Conclusion: Biden’s original infrastructure plan and reconciliation package does raise taxes, give out tax credits and create millions of jobs. However, how much Americans should pay in taxes and the distinction of a good job are opinions. This, and the slightly misleading phrase Biden’s plan, are good enough to knock down this claim to a B.

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