Sunday, June 21, 2009

Torinus' Taxed Reality

John Torinus, Journal-Sentinel writer and CEO of Serigraph Inc., is at it again. He's complaining because his company can't completely avoid all forms of taxation in the State of Wisconsin. This is a well-worn theme of his.

It's really strange how business has morphed into entities that feel they have no social responsibility other than fattening their own pockets and rewarding their shareholders. One would think they might realize their long-term solvency and viability is tied to the health and performance of the country, and therefore, they might want to do all they can - pay taxes, plan long-term rather than short, minimize risky behavior - to support and strengthen such nationwide goals.

Torinus' undies are all in a bunch over an exemption from the state capital gains tax. Torinus claims this is, "one of the few tax advantages of doing business in Wisconsin." Governor Doyle took the exemption down to 40% in his budget. The Senate wanted to eliminate it altogether.

He always forgets to mention that his company, Serigraph Inc., paid no corporate income taxes in 2003 and 2004. And, I'm only speculating, has probably paid next to nothing since then. This is an onerous business tax burden? This would be laughable if the Journal-Sentinel didn't give this guy a platform to spew such nonsense.

The Tax Foundation found:
Wisconsin's 2009 Business Tax Climate Ranks 38th in the Tax Foundation's State Business Tax Climate Index. The Index compares the states in five areas of taxation that impact business: corporate taxes; individual income taxes; sales taxes; unemployment insurance taxes; and taxes on property, including residential and commercial property.

The Institute for Wisconsin's Future released a report Exposing The Tax Hell Hoax, which attempted to put an end to this misinformation the business community continually puts forth in an attempt to pay nothing in taxes.

Torinus also smears state legislator Russ Decker, declaring him anti-business, because he doesn't feel the corporate community should be absolved of paying any taxes. Implying that, somehow, making businesses pay their fair share as proposed in the latest budget, is responsible for the 133,000 job losses over the last year. That's quite a jump in logic and honesty.

A larger counter-point can be extracted from his closing corporate talking points - we need nationalized standards of regulation and combined reporting. We need to put an end to the blackmailing site selection and the inefficiency of our zero-sum, beggar-thy-neighbor business and development policies.

Torinus complains about combined reporting, without offering the reader the details of what it actually is. Presenting it simply as an additional cost to business, rather than what it really does -remove a tax loophole inserted into state tax law by business lobbyists which shifted the tax burden onto homeowners and workers.

Torinus states, "The Democrats obviously have decided to play to union leaders and to the average voter and have turned a deaf ear to business." The reality is, the Democrats are trying to enact fairness and uniformity into our tax system, helping out average workers, and trying to make businesses pay their fair share.

He then [and you can almost feel the tears in his eyes] says,"Overall, the Democratic posture toward private employers is pretty punitive." Corporate taxation has declined 47 percent over the last thirty years. Homeowners have made up this shortfall. How much more disingenuous could a corporatist be in claiming this is punitive treatment? I'm sure Torinus is shedding just as many tears for the workers in the State whom have made up for all the taxes he is allowed to avoid.

For Further Reading:
Ralph Nader wrote an interesting article regarding the legally privileged status our corporations are allowed to operate under and the trajectory of such - Avoiding Corporate Liability.

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