Taxes are complicated, but the way we think about tax policy doesn’t have to be

When we all pitch in to pay for the services and infrastructure that build a thriving economy, everyone benefits. But if some people and corporations don’t pay their share, the rest of us have to pick up their slack. That’s just not fair.

We favor tax systems that are fair. That means people and small businesses with the least pay the least, and people and corporations with the most pay the most. It’s that simple.

But here’s the reality:

  • Most states have upside-down tax structures, meaning that people with lower incomes pay more than people with the highest incomes. States with flat income taxes or no income taxes are the most unbalanced.
  • On average in the US, the top 20% of earners pay less than their fair share in taxes on income while the bottom 80% of earners pay more than their fair share.
  • The wealthiest 1% of Americans hide about 20% of their income from taxation.

It’s not just working families who rely on good schools, clean air and water, reliable energy systems, and safe roads. Businesses rely on those things, too. And business owners understand that a healthy, housed, and educated workforce, modern roads and ports, a clean environment, and affordable energy are all good for the bottom line.

But they don’t come free. That’s why all individual and corporate taxpayers need to pay their fair share.

  • The US loses about $1 trillion in unpaid taxes every year, primarily the result of evasion by wealthy people and corporations.
  • In 2020, 55 of America’s largest corporations paid zero in federal taxes because of wasteful subsidies and tax giveaways. Corporate welfare costs the government $180 billion each year.

Here in Maine, we benefit from a tax system that has been made more fair in recent years, but there is plenty more that can be done.

  • Stop including the wealthy in tax breaks. Legislators on both sides say they want tax breaks targeted at families with low and middle income, and yet continue to pass and propose tax cuts that also benefit the wealthy. Such plans should be fixed or scrapped.
  • Give targeted tax breaks only. Legislators don’t have to reinvent the wheel to deliver tax cuts that solely target families with low and middle income. Programs like the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit are proven effective at lifting people out of poverty.
  • Implement new rules for the ultra-rich. Right now, Mainers can inherit as much as $5.8 million tax-free. Tax breaks that prioritize unearned wealth over a hard-earned paycheck should be rolled back.
  • Stop corporate welfare. Billions in taxpayer contributions are given away in corporate tax breaks without evidence they’re needed or working. Without transparency, Maine taxpayers don’t even know if the corporations their subsidies fund are even paying taxes in Maine. It’s time to fix that.
  • Stop corporations from hiding profits. All corporations that generate profit in Maine should pay taxes in Maine. The federal government now requires corporations with profits over $1 billion to pay a corporate alternative minimum tax. Maine should follow suit, and also close tax haven loopholes that allow multinational corporations to hide Maine-earned profits offshore.