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To pay for infrastructure, require the rich and corporations to pay their fair share of taxes

President Biden delivers remarks on his administration's economic agenda. Photo credit: Getty.
To pay for infrastructure, require the rich and corporations to pay their fair share of taxes
By AFSCME Staff ·

President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan invests in the care economy and the nation’s physical infrastructure, and it includes the more than $1 trillion bipartisan deal approved by the U.S. Senate earlier this month. Biden’s package – which the House is expected to consider soon – represents the largest investment in our country’s infrastructure in generations.

AFSCME wholeheartedly supports the package, as it will allow public service workers to keep our communities safe and healthy by improving roads, bridges, and invest in home care, child care, schools and more.

This package presents a rare opportunity to finally level the playing field for working families by requiring wealthy individuals and large profitable corporations to pay their fair share of taxes. That would help pay for this much-needed investment in America’s infrastructure, vital public services, and the care economy.

Americans agree. Voters are frustrated that in 2020, 55 large corporations, including giants like Nike and FedEx, earned combined profits of $40.5 billion, yet their federal income tax payments were zero. Hundreds of other well-known companies and some billionaires paid almost zero. When the wealthy exploit tax loopholes with legal or illegal practices, workers and small businesses suffer. 

Moreover, recent polling shows that roughly two-thirds of voters and independents support Biden’s core plan to raise taxes on corporations and individuals with incomes over $400,000. When AFSCME members were asked if corporations and the wealthy should pay higher taxes to address economic inequality and pay for vital public services, 55% wholeheartedly agreed and an additional 17% strongly supported it.

AFSCME also supports ending tax breaks that encourage corporations to send U.S. jobs and profits to other countries. Congress should raise the corporate tax rate on profits earned in foreign nations to equal the tax rate on profits earned in America. For wealthy individuals, Congress should tax wealth like work by raising the tax rate on capital gains investments.

In addition, Congress should strengthen tax enforcement at the Internal Revenue Service by investing $80 billion to hire more tax auditors, modernize computers and technology and increase audit rates on high-income people and firms. 

For far too long, the wealthy have taken advantage of a broken tax code to pay little or nothing in federal income taxes. The situation was bad when Donald Trump became president, but he made it worse through his 2017 hugely regressive tax cut that further rigged the system in favor of wealthy people and corporations.

The Build Back Better agenda cannot be achieved without creating an economy that works for everyone, not just the rich and well-connected. That means making wealthy corporations and individuals pay their fair share of taxes.

Now is the time to act.

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