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Corporations avoid taxes at penalty of citizens

By Katherine Yaremko, Columnist

It does not take much to feel angered by the hypocrisy demonstrated by enormous, excessively greedy corporations. It is even worse when the U.S. government encourages the continuation of such hypocrisy through its actions. Such is the case today with General Motors, which has been successful in avoiding payment of any taxes throughout the last year.

While such financial hoop-jumping can be infuriating to those who do pay substantial amounts in taxes, what is truly mind-boggling is Obama's institution of the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. He has chosen Jeff Immelt to chair the council, even though Immelt is also General Motor's CEO.

The hypocrisy of GM has emerged following the discovery that the company failed to pay anything in taxes last year, even though it took away a profit of $14.2 billion, according to ABC News. In addition, it earned itself a tax benefit totaling $3.2 billion.

GM claims that it is paying fewer taxes as a result of the amount of economic damage it sustained during the recession. Such a claim, however, sounds entirely false to most citizens. Many powerful, influential companies fight extremely hard to receive sort of tax deduction, and not because they experience difficulty producing the money.

According to the New York Times, GM actually pays less in taxes than other companies at the same multinational level. It may be relatively easy to simply continue to express cynicism toward such institutions and regard their behavior as expected from wealthy businesses. However widespread or common a problem is, we should be cautious of allowing our reflection on it to end with merely cynicism and complaint.

Obama's selection of Immelt, after speeches in which Obama proclaimed he would try to prevent corporations from abusing the tax system, runs completely contrary to the administration's stated goals.

As long as private corporations are allowed to continue to flirt with the government, we will continue to witness the same hypocrisy between the agendas officials publicly claim they want, and the ones they actually use. I think the real question is, how does one set about changing a corrupt system that is held in place so ferociously by individuals with incredible amounts of power and influence? As the administration is complicit it cannot be left to it to determine how to solve the issue.

But what is perhaps most outrageous is that companies will battle to avoid paying no taxes whatsoever, even wholeheartedly accepting benefits, all at the expense of the millions of lives that could be benefited if corporate greed ever diminished. 

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