Last week I wrote about corporate income taxes and focused mostly on changes over time and presidential terms.
One astute reader of the blog commented to me that another perspective looks at who actually pays the corporate income tax.
For example, your mother gets mad at you and then you slug your brother. The impact of your mother's scowl is on your little brother...or your sister. I don't want to be sexist here.
It is the same thing with taxes and corporations. Let's say that your company produces canned tuna. The government decides that the owners of Charlie's Tuna Factory are rich and they should pay more taxes to the government. Clearly, the government reasons, they can do much better things with the cash than Charlie.
So bam Charlie gets hit with a bigger tax bill.
Charlie and his lamb-like accountant Jack put their heads together and decide how to deal with the tax increase.
Charlie feels guilty because he recently installed a plastic pool in his backyard and he is the rave of his neighborhood. Life is good for his family. He tells Jack to pay him a smaller dividend so the government can do better things with his money.
Jack laughs so hard that he worsens his double hernia.
"Charlie, don't be a fool. You deserve all that money you make. There are lots of other ways to find the cash to pay the extra taxes." Tuna is all ears.
Here is what Jack said.
Don't give your workers a raise this year. That will give you more money for taxes.
Reduce the benefits you pay those workers.
Fire some of your workers -- you can get by without a lot of them. Make the rest work harder and longer.
Give a lot less to the United Way and other charities this year.
There are lots of tax write-offs besides charity we can use to offset the increased taxes. Take a trip to Paris to search for better tin cans and enjoy good wine and coffee.
Support politicians who will help you reduce taxes down the road.
Get tough on your suppliers. You don't need to pay so much for oil or for tin.
Your sales staff do not need those luxurious Chevy Vegas. Bicycles would provide better health benefits than that silly expensive healthcare plan.
I could go on but you get the picture. The corporation writes the check to the IRS each year but the real issue is who REALLY "pays" the tax. As you can see, it is not just the stockholders who will pay the extra taxes.me
I tried to bring in some data on this topic. Personal dividend income surged from 2010 to 2020. It rose 239% compared to the decade before. Most of that increase came before 2015. During those two decades, personal income rose by only 79%. It is hard to see any real bump from Trump's lower corporate tax rates on dividend income. Trump becomes President in January of 2017 and his tax bill is signed in December of 2017. Dividends do rise in 2018 compared to 2017 but that increase appears to be the continuation of a trend of increases that started as early as 2012.
Are we sure that the extra trillions in taxes proposed by Joe Biden are going to be used by government in ways that are better for the country than the alternative uses?