Taxation and Business: CEO's Explain
This is a tad long, but stick with me. I'm the Owner and CEO of a specialty manufacturer with not a insignificant annual revenue and margins based around knowledge that make Apple product margins look like a rounding error. My tax bills are disturbingly large, but that's because I chose to organize my company as a Sole Proprietorship, the company income is my income.
From an accounting perspective that's a really dumb thing to do, but from my perspective it's worth every penny. The only laws and regulations I have to follow are those anyone not raging ass would do simply because they're the right things to be doing (provide safe work conditions, no discrimination and such), other than that I answer to no one. I also ask for nothing, and that's where taxation veers into ethics and morality.
Directly and indirectly, about 30% of our revenue is from the US government. But we're not getting that work through lobbying or political leverage, we get that work because nobody else in the US can do the work. Lockheed tried once, but we bought their machines and tooling after they couldn't make it work. My point is that we deliver only the absolute best, anywhere, and we are rewarded for that. It's infuriating, it's expensive, it's fucking hard, but it's what we do. It's what I said I would do if I ever got the chance.
Now, I came out of big tech, that's where I got the resources to start my endeavor. For many years I had a deal of influence in how my employer managed through growth and international expansion. You can rest assured knowing that delivering the absolute best was not part of our discussions. Ten or twelve people, the leadership component of the company, were only peripherally aware of what we actually made. If anybody in those meetings knew more than one model number of current products I'll kiss your ass. I'm quite nearly positive that our CFO had never actually seen one of our products in person.
Our days, weeks, months and years were spent working out how to best skirt regulations (mostly financial) and how to reduce our tax liabilities in various countries. Customers, product offerings, logistics, those are predefined and immobile. Laws and regulations, now those were plastic and could be altered to better suit our needs. That wasn't unique to us either, if you know a company's name, it is guaranteed the same thing is taking place.
Something is terribly, terribly wrong when a company feels it can't do anything about its products or customers, but that it can just bend politicians and legislators to their will instead. Sure, the CEO's will poke their heads out a few times a year and bemoan the horribly oppressive taxes and how they can't innovate because the tax man is taking too much. But I can assure you that we were laughing at the bar before the Senate hearing on corporate taxation and we were laughing even more when we went back to the bar afterward.
It was always hilarious and the CEO's who made the most ridiculous straight faced statement to the Senate would drink for free that night. These are people who would sell you their wives and children if the price was right and you believe they're going to pass up hundreds of millions or billions in revenue because of taxes? Please... It was funny because we were managing the governments, and the citizens of those countries with fear of a situation that would never occur and they ate that shit up.
The issue here is that big companies have enormous leverage over the laws if the countries where they do business. If that's going to be the case, where companies are asking for direct government intervention, then they should be paying far, far more in taxes. You didn't elect Tim Cook to office, so if Tim Cook (or whoever) wants to play politics instead of focusing on his products and his customers he needs to pay.
Meanwhile, companies that don't ask to (re)write your countries laws should pay a lot less in taxes. I ask for nothing from the governments of any country where we do business. I accept their rules, play by their rules and still won't deliver anything but the best. That's because I'm a businessman, not a politician or a lawyer. I'll thrive or I'll starve on my own merits and I won't be trying to force my will on the free citizens of any country. If you want to play that game, then you need to pay, not scare people by holding their jobs for ransom.
You ask yourself how much your freedom is worth, because that's what you're selling every single time a giant company writes your laws instead of your elected legislators.