An infographic designed to help Americans navigate the federal tax code reveals the biggest loopholes that the wealthy and corporations pay little or no tax on.
A new infographic from Vice News, titled “The Truth About Benefits,” details how companies, lobbyists, and lawmakers alike have used a convoluted system to create tax loopholes that are rarely, if ever, reported to the public.
In 2016, the Tax Foundation estimated that over 30 percent of all tax returns submitted to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are filled out with a misleading claim of “corporate income,” or in the case of individual taxpayers, “corporations income.”
In a separate report, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimated that nearly two-thirds of all taxpayers are unaware that they are subject to a tax on income earned from investments, dividends, and capital gains.
While the numbers may not be as alarming as they once were, the infographic shows how a corporate tax dodge can effectively hide millions of dollars in hidden tax.
The infographic, which was designed by the Tax Policy Institute (TPC), details how the tax code allows many corporations to hide millions in tax on profits they pay out of their tax-exempt status, or “pass-throughs.”
Pass-through companies, which allow their owners to reduce their tax liability, are generally defined as small businesses that are organized as pass-through entities, which are corporations that file a separate federal tax return to pay federal income tax on their owners’ income.
Pass-thru corporations, or S corporations, are corporations whose sole purpose is to take advantage of the “passive income” tax loophole that allows many Americans to avoid paying federal income taxes.
According to TPC, about 1.2 million S corporations are active in the U.S.
As the infographic illustrates, corporations often create pass-thrus by splitting profits from their business profits into various separate tax-free income streams.
In most cases, the profits are then deducted from the owners’ personal income tax liability.
But, there are also instances where companies can simply write off a portion of their income to offset their tax liabilities.
For example, a company that owns stock in a mutual fund could write off up to 30 percent to offset the income they received from the fund, according to the Tax Research Center.
In some cases, corporations even make payments to their owners as long as they have a pass-up, according a TPC analysis.
In addition to not reporting income on their taxes, pass-ups and pass-downs are often used by corporations to defer taxes they owe to their workers, pension funds, or insurance companies.
For a number of corporations, it can also allow them to avoid the full cost of paying their taxes and to avoid being taxed on any federal income earned.
In fact, the top 10 percent of filers paid more than $11.7 trillion in taxes in 2016.
While it is true that pass-sums can be an attractive way to minimize federal income taxation, it is also true that many pass-outs do not pay any federal taxes.
As the Tax Reform Coalition’s Robert E. Moffit explained in an email to Vice News in 2016, passouts often leave their owners holding the bag when it comes to paying their fair share of taxes.
The TPC infographic shows just how easily corporations can hide their billions in hidden taxes, and how the federal government is left paying the price.
A number of states have enacted laws aimed at making pass-its illegal, according the Tax Justice Network.
The Tax Policy Council, a Washington, D.C.-based group that advocates for lower tax rates, has also called for states to enact laws aimed specifically at pass-it, or corporate pass-thoughs, in order to reduce the amount of money corporations pay in taxes.
States that have enacted pass-ies laws include California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia.