Draft GPUS Platform Amendment Fair Taxation
CHAPTER 4: ECONOMIC SUSTAINABILITY
Old section title: True Cost Pricing and Fair Taxation
New section title: Fair Taxation
Section subtitle: Tax justice for America
Our Position: Federal and state taxes must be strongly progressive.
Our current tax system is outrageously unjust. It is riddled with loopholes, subsidies and dodges for corporations and the super-rich. Most working Americans pay too much in taxes compared to corporations, multi-millionaires and billionaires. Many of our biggest and most profitable corporations pay little or no tax. Much investment income is taxed at less than the rate workers pay.
We can afford to cut taxes for most Americans if we make corporations and the super-rich pay their fair share. Then we can cut them even more when we halt our nation's wasteful spending on wars, weaponry and militarism.
We call for progressive taxation, shifting tax from individuals to corporations, taxing "bads" not "goods," taxing unearned income at the same rate as earned income, taxing speculation on Wall Street, and cutting corporate tax give-aways.
We will institute comprehensive tax reform to simplify the tax system. We will eliminate loopholes and other exemptions that favor corporate and wealthy interests over tax justice.
Small business, in particular, should not be penalized by a tax system which benefits those who can "work" the legislative tax committees for breaks and subsidies. We support substantive and wide-ranging reform of the tax system that helps create jobs, economic efficiencies and innovation within the small business community. We will end "corporate welfare." Smaller businesses are America's great strength Greens believe government should have a tax policy which encourages small- and socially responsible business.
Political democracy remains a distant promise without economic democracy. A principal instrument for achieving economic democracy is our tax system. Taxes are the means whereby we fund our public services. They can also help create equity, justice, health and sustainability.
Cut taxes for hard-working Americans
1. Exempt people earning less than $25,000 per year and families earning less than $50,000 per year (adjusted for inflation) from the federal and state income taxes.
2. Exempt food, clothing, prescription medications, other necessities and second-hand goods from sales taxes.
Fair taxes for corporations and wealthy Americans
1. End corporate welfare, such as the bailouts for Wall Street, the big banks and the automobile industry; subsidies for agribusiness, Export-Import Bank loan guarantees; tax abatements for big box stores; the tax loophole for “carried interest” from private equity and hedge fund managers; tax deductibility for advertising and business entertainment; offshore tax avoidance schemes; giveaways for new sports stadiums and casinos.
2. Impose a financial transaction tax on trades of stocks, bonds, currency, derivatives, and other financial instruments.
3. Block financial transactions with tax havens, to stop tax evasion.
4. Decrease the $1 million home value cap on the mortgage interest tax deduction for federal income taxes, to reduce the tax subsidy provided to those living in the most expensive homes.
5. Restore the estate tax.
6. Apply the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (Social Security and Medicare) taxes to investment income and to all levels of income, not merely the first $106,800 earned.
7. Oppose the privatization of Social Security.
8. Enact a wealth tax of 0.5% per year on an individual's assets over $5 million.
Eco-taxes to help save the planet
1. Establish a system of carbon taxes on all fossil fuels, to begin to reflect the real environmental cost of their extraction and use. Carbon taxes should be applied as far upstream as possible, preferably when possession of the carbon-bearing fuel passes from extraction (for example, coal mine; oil wellhead or tanker; gas wellhead) to the next entity in the supply chain (for example, coal shipper or utility; oil refiner or importer; natural gas pipeline). Offset potential regressivity for lower income individuals via the Green Tax shift that lowers income taxes and/or other approaches.
2. Eliminate tax subsidies for the oil, gas, coal, nuclear and timber and mining industries.
3. Enact a Green Tax Shift that shifts from taxing people and work (via income and payroll taxes) to taxing natural resource extraction, use, waste and pollution.
4. Enact a system of Community Ground Rent/Land Value Taxation that distinguishes between the socially and privately created wealth of land, by increasing the taxes on the former to retain for society the value that it collectively creates and lowers them on the latter to reward individuals for their initiative and work.
5. To ensure that prices reflect their true environmental cost, enact a system of True Cost Pricing (TCP) for goods and services. TCP is an accounting and pricing system that includes all costs in the price of a product. TCP charges extractive and productive industries for the immediate or prolonged damage (pollution of air and water) and diminishment of natural resources caused by their acts.
6. Impose a carbon fee on goods imported from nations with lower carbon taxes than in the U.S., based upon the carbon spent in manufacturing and transporting them to the U.S.
Taxes for a better, healthier America
1. Simplify the tax code. Make it transparent, understandable and resistant to the machinations of powerful corporate and wealthy interests.
2. Eliminate tax incentives to ship jobs overseas.
3. Raise taxes on tobacco, alcohol, soda pop and junk food.
ORIGINAL 2004 TEXT OF FAIR TAXATION SECTION
Taxes pay for important public services. Tax policies should foster a more equitable progressive tax structure, as opposed to the present regressive nature of taxation that levies the heaviest burdens on those least able to pay.
Corporations currently receive tax breaks that promote growth and the consumption of resources. Tax breaks should promote sustainability and social responsibility.
Any shift in tax policy must be done gradually, so that people and government can adjust to the changes. Also, changes should move toward appropriate scale of collection and use of taxes
a. More progressive taxation. Sales, corporate and income taxes should be adjusted to relieve the burden on those less able to pay and increase the burden on large and multinational corporations and the super wealthy, who do not pay their fair share. Raise the state income tax for higher income people. Also, reduce income taxes for low-wage workers to encourage people to seek employment rather than relying on public assistance.
b. Raising corporate taxes. The corporate share of taxes has fallen from 33% in the 1940s to 7% today, while the individual share has risen from 44% to 85%.
c. Implementing tax policies that promote sustainability and social responsibility. Subsidies, export incentives, tax loopholes and tax shelters that benefit large corporations now amount to hundreds of billions of dollars each year. These promote growth and the consumption of resources.
d. Shifting investments away from such things as automating the production of disposable products, which reduces the number of jobs. Also, discourage leveraged buyouts and mergers, which extract working capital. Instead, we must promote community development and job creation.
e. Imposing Carbon taxes on all fossil fuels, because of detrimental effects of carbon emissions on the environment. Those with the highest carbon content would be taxed the most, ranging from coal (highest) to oil to natural gas. Revenues would go into a fund initially earmarked for carbon-reducing activities. [See section E. Clean Air / Greenhouse Effect / Ozone Depletion on page 47 in chapter III]
f. Offsetting Regressive Taxes. The carbon tax would favor those of lower income by being directed to fund public transportation improvement and subsidies, weatherization and other efficiency measures, and passive solar installations. As revenues increase, the funds would be used to provide relief to low income people in such programs as housing and education and could eventually replace regressive taxes such as sales taxes.
g. Encouraging the enactment of the Tobin tax on financial transactions across borders.
h. Decreasing taxes on labor.
i. Decreasing the cap on the mortgage tax deduction for both federal and state income taxes.
j. Re-establishment of the inheritance tax. Inheritance tax revenues should be dedicated to health and welfare benefits for the poor and to enlisted soldiers salaries.
k. Aiming for revenue neutrality in the tax changes. We are not proposing a bigger overall role for government. However, there are some situations where certain priority activities are under-funded.
l. Shifting tax policy gradually so that people and government can adjust to the changes. Also, changes should move toward appropriate scale of collection and use of taxes.