In his Everett Herald column today, John Burbank, Executive Director of the Economic Opportunity Institute, zeroes in on Microsoft's tax dodge and its harmful effects on the state's educational system:
Seeds planted by corporate lobbyists in our state's tax code, and fertilized by an obedient Legislature, have grown to the point where waste, fraud and abuse in corporate taxation is crowding out our kids' K-12 education, the paramount duty of the state. ...
Microsoft made over $23 billion in profit on $69.9 billion of revenue in its 2011 fiscal year, a tidy profit rate of 33 percent. But apparently the company still needs to skimp on taxes. By running its licensing sales through a shop in Reno, Nev., it avoids royalty taxes that could be funding high-quality schools for Washington's children.
The Legislature has enabled Microsoft to continue this ruse. Last year the state budget included a provision to ensure that only Microsoft's licensing revenue from Washington state customers is taxable. For good measure, the Legislature agreed to an amnesty clause that legally prohibits the state from trying to collect back taxes owed by Microsoft before the narrower definition of taxable licenses was passed.
So how much did public school students and their teachers and professors lose from this ruse? Somewhere between $100 million and $400 million a year for the past 15 years. (We can't get much more accurate because we can't see Microsoft's internal corporate accounting.)
Read the full article: State Must Stop Coddling Corporations