Million-Dollar Profits, Ten-Dollar Tax Bill

March 11, 2009

The Oregon Center for Public Policy found

new data

showing that more than 5,000 profitable corporations operating in Oregon paid no more than $10 in corporate income tax for 2006. Among this group, 31 corporations each recorded profits of over $1 million.

OCPP policy analyst Michael Leachman


the need for the Oregon Department of Revenue to disclose the names of these corporations: “By shining light on the system, Oregonians can see which big, profitable companies are good corporate citizens and which are not.” We need to know, stresses Leachman, “Which ones are playing us for fools?”

When corporations get lower tax rates they are contributing less to the cost of public services, thereby shifting more of the burden onto individual taxpayers. The current share of income taxes collected from corporations operating in Oregon is projected to be around 6 percent during 2009 to 2011, compared to the 18.5 percent in the mid 1970’s.

Leachman notes that a larger number of corporations are paying more than the $10 minimum, but still less than the typical Oregon household. “The system has gone awry when a profitable corporation pays less in income taxes than a single mother working at a minimum wage job,” Leachman notes.

“When corporations don’t pay their fair share, working families and small businesses are forced to pick up the slack”

Corporate tax dodging is occurring across the country and across industry sectors.

The data from Oregon is part of a larger pattern of declining corporate contributions to the cost of public services.

In his book, “

The Great American Jobs Scam

,” Greg LeRoy examines how this pattern developed over the last 25 years, particularly due to large corporations with the resources to aggressively pursue lower income tax rates. With widespread budget shortages and physical infrastructure in such dire need of maintenance and repair, we can not afford to let corporations dodge their share of the cost.