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Old 04-12-2019, 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by pete View Post
Is Amazon’s business model built on using the internet, which came out of military R&D and utilizes federally funded data infrastructure? Are the goods being sold by Amazon traveling over federally subsidized highways? Entering the country through federally subsidized ports and airports? At what point does Amazon begin to repay the federal government for the investments it has made that have led to Amazon making $10B in profit?
Fair points, however, they don't include the full picture, and your statement assumes they are doing nothing. I disagree.

Federal Highways are subsidized by the feds, but state and local infrastructure (state highways and local roads) are from departments of transportation and local governments, which are funded, at least in part, by gas taxes (a form of use tax), supplemented by block grants, which, again goes back to the Feds. Amazon pays the fuel taxes, as it gets collected in their airline fleet fuel bills, and in the last mile shippers invoices to them. When they use their own airlines to move packages, they pay airport docking fees, when they ship goods into a port, they pay port fees. These help fund infrastructure. There are multitudes of ways that infrastructure is funded beyond the federal income tax. Sales and Use Taxes, Municipal taxes, fuel taxes, tourist taxes, hotel occupancy taxes etc. Further, indirect taxes like withholding taxes on dividends, interest and royalties are also used to fund the Federal government, hence, federal infrastructure (assuming money is fungible, which your argument as well as McConnell's seem to). Amazon is most likely already paying a mountain of ancillary and indirect taxes, while not paying federal income tax. And that's not necessarily a bad thing IMO.

As far as the internet goes, I have a bigger problem with the internet providers that took billions in subsidies to expand fiber optics networks that never materialized than I am Amazon. I don't think that is a whataboutism considering that their providing the internet is their actual business. Further, Amazon's AWS is basically building out the internet backbone and server farms that allow the internet to function as it does. Without AWS/Google/Microsoft, we're back in 1999 internet, as far as I understand it. That doesn't mean that there isn't a fee charged by the federal government to internet service providers, or ancillary service providers (AWS, et al). I just don't know, and my guess is, you don't either.

My overall point being that saying they aren't repaying the government for the government's infrastructure investment isn't completely correct.

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Originally Posted by pete View Post
You’ll have a hard time convincing me that Amazon paying $0 in corporate tax is fair while people like Mitch McConnell are actively seeking to destroy Social Security and Medicare because “we can’t afford them”. We can’t afford them if we continue to subsidize corporations to the hilt and refuse to demand some reinvestment in the common good back in return.
You'll have a hard time convincing anyone other than someone with an axe to grind that business losses should not be allowed to be carried forward, which is what Amazon is doing (I think), and ultimately, where your issue lies. You are looking at 1 year, instead of the last 15, which was what I was explaining with my description of NOLs, revenue mix and deduction incentives. That's not how tax burdens are calculated. If you want Corps to recognize 100% of their losses in current year, with no ability to offset future earnings (and pay taxes on their 10B in profits this year), prepare for a massive economic contraction, like great depression level or worse, if I had to guess. There's a reason why loss carryforwards have been tax policy for decades. I'm certain that Amazon is taking care of every advantage they have available to them, but that doesn't mean they are evading taxes (of course the opposite is also true, I'm not their tax auditor). When Wal-Mart takes shots at Amazon, they are knowingly playing into the public's misunderstanding of how taxes work. Wal-Mart most likely used the same type of deductions that Amazon did in its infancy. Now they are paying taxes. The same will be true of Amazon in the future. Note, where I described above (and prior post) how all of the indirect and ancillary taxes are collected up front (ones which help pay for infrastructure BTW), while Federal income tax (which is the tax in question) is delayed until NOLs have expired or have been used up. This is when they will start paying taxes. Same as Wal-Mart.

That said, the rate and amount at which NOLs can be used to offset current year taxable income has been addressed in the current tax cut, the benefit or loss to the company depends on the company, I have no idea how it affects Amazon. That could certainly be a place where further tinkering could accelerate federal income tax, by limiting the amount or duration of the carryforwards.

As far as the SS and Medicare Senate Republican canard, I agree with you. I just see that as a separate issue from a large corporation that is just recently becoming profitable and is therefore not paying tax (I assume, as described previously). The 1T current annual deficit has more to do with lowering the individual rates, rather than corporate rates, as more federal income tax is pulled in from individuals than corporations. If anything, individual rates should be raised (progressively obv). I keep going back to treating Cap Gains like earned income, since it far disproportionately benefits the powerful.

Taking the cap off of SS would solve the "problem" McDonnell is so worried about (like he actually gives a shit). I put it in quotes, because I don't think SS is actually a problem. The Feds ability to print money can solve both SS and Medicare IMO, and there is zero percent chance either SS or Medicare will ever go away since they benefit the only reliable voting block, the older portion of our populace.

If you want to talk about industry specific subsidies, that is certainly a place where our tax policy doesn't line up with overall public good. Why we continue to subsidize oil and gas because of national security interests, while eschewing whole hog alternative energy I still don't understand, and consider to be low hanging fruit. That's really where Amazon does damage, in their rate shopping a new HQ to a dozen cities. That's not a federal thing though, since those subsidies are at both the state and federal level.

It's easy to get upset at a soundbite. But understand you are getting upset without understanding the full picture. I'm as guilty as anyone, but I actually understand a little bit about how a multinational is taxed, so take this as my attempt to add a little color and additional information to the debate. I don't mean any of the above to be condescending.
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  #17302  
Old 04-12-2019, 12:09 PM
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It’s not a separate issue at all. The government now has a colossal revenue problem. If you want to say it’s fair for an internet startup to not pay taxes while their building, that’s fine, but for a company that made $10B in profit to contribute $0 in corporate taxes at a time when the government has an acute revenue problem is insane. Basically, what you’re saying is that the government should accept entrepreneurship as an unfunded liability against public interests and social safety nets (ok) AND that even after entrepreneurs are successful we still shouldn’t expect any sort of remuneration for that risk.

And, as you noted, Amazon is also living high off the teet of corporate welfare from local governments such as in Washington and Seattle, as well.

At what point do big, successful corporations have to pay into the social good as responsible corporate citizens who recognize that nothing they accomplish in business could’ve happened without the collective investments provided to them on the front end and ongoing utilization on the infrastructure for commerce that governments are responsible for maintaining?
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  #17303  
Old 04-12-2019, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by the_narrow_way View Post
Here's a reminder of what happens far too often when an officer is the offender:
https://abcnews.go.com/US/florida-of...ry?id=62161302


https://www.nbcnews.com/business/tax...x-plan-n993046


The word you're looking for is 'discretion', but I digress...


Good for you. My withholding didn't change, my income was almost the same, and I got a few hundred dollars less back this year.
Before you judge what happened that night and as to why the deputy was over the speed limit you had better know the traffic laws. If he was indeed trying to get to another deputy Florida Law allows for him to break traffic laws.

That evening was very sad as a young life was lost. But just like many other times far too many people refuse to cross a street where they would have a better chance of making it across safely. There was an intersection just a short distance away with a traffic signal which they chose to ignore and paid a price.

And who cares about the grammar police. Over the years I authored thousands of reports and had them check and approved. This is a MB so who really cares about the grammar as long as the point gets across.
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  #17304  
Old 04-12-2019, 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by dannybolt View Post
My guess is that if WW is in Tallahassee lobbying for anything, it's on behalf of law enforcement, although he may consider that being a benefit for the general public. If he is lobbying for more state funds going to things like charitable organizations or environmental groups, then he would be doing what he is claiming; lobbying on behalf of the general public.


I agree with nearly all of this. The Republican economic model, as currently constituted, is a farce.


Depends, really. Supply side economics worked great for driving down the cost of capital. The more funds available in capital markets, the cheaper the cost of capital. If you aren't capital though, and are like most people, IE: labor, then yes, supply side doesn't do you much good. It all goes back to what our economy is prioritizing. The farce we are currently experiencing, as I understand it (and I could easily be misunderstanding it), is that the last forty years have seen little other than supply side economics, of which the marginal returns have continued to shrink; however, it is ingrained Republican orthodoxy, so even though the returns are now minimal, they keep going back to that well, because they don't have the imagination to try another path. They look down their noses at millennials who are getting caught with the short straw, while claiming our bare assed emperor is wearing the finest clothes. It's no longer sustainable (if it ever was), as is evidenced by the newly blown 1T budget deficits.


I'm not sure that's true, but Fly could tell you better than I could. Capital intensive small businesses, or rapidly expanding small businesses, probably don't pay taxes because of depreciation (more on that below), but saying most don't pay taxes doesn't pass the smell test. I would think most service-based businesses pay federal income taxes because of the low startup and operational costs, unless they are running on miniscule margins, which I would think would be atypical of boutique service industry firms. This is of course if we are talking C Corps, not LLCs treated as S Corps or Partnerships, which are by definition, pass-throughs and are therefore only taxed at the shareholder level.


Gonna disagree wholeheartedly on the Amazon tax bill (without knowing the fine details, just the broad swath you mention). Sounds like you read a clickbait article or saw a soundbite and it got your dander up. Not the point about SS and Medicare rollback, the part about Amazon not owing US tax. The following is a small (haha) explanation as to what might be going on. For the interested reader. US Tax on multinationals is way more complex than most people realize (or care to realize, and rightly so), so to just say it is bad that Amazon pays $0 tax without knowing why they are paying $0 tax is a less than enlightened statement. At any rate, here are a few off the cuff reasons:

Amazon didn't make money for a long, long, time. Not too long ago, there were analysts wondering how much longer Amazon could go on before the music stopped, since they were existing on capital funding, not on their own revenues. Much like what Uber (and a shit ton of other new tech companies) are doing now. Without knowing the intimate details, this tells me Amazon has a ton of Net Operating Loss carryforwards. This is put in the tax code so that a business can operate at a loss in its infancy, and then once it becomes profitable, get credit for those losses, using them to reduce their present taxable income. It's a way to incentivize risk taking in starting new businesses, or expanding into new markets. The thought being that if there is expansion, the overall tax base from that company gets wider over time, there are more employees hired, more materials sourced, etc. Sales tax gets collected, payroll tax, property tax, indirect taxes (withholding on interest, divs, royalties), many other taxes get collected other than just income taxes. The non-income tax gets collected up front, the income tax gets delayed until the expansion slows down (no more depreciation, see below).

Now that Amazon is making money, they are plowing their profits into new businesses, especially Amazon Web Services (AWS); prior to that, my guess is that they were using venture cap and borrowing in the US. Expansion and Investment takes startup capital, which they are either using from current operations, or from borrowing. The tax cut eliminated the interest paid deduction in the US, so this means they are either borrowing in their foreign structure (which is taxed locally BTW), or using current funds from other businesses and internal capital funds or intercompany loan structures. There are upsides and downsides to either.

So, the tax cut eliminated the benefit to borrowing in the US, BUT, it expanded the use of depreciation, which is where a lot of companies get a tax deduction benefit that can seriously reduce their tax burden. The old regime allowed for the taking of bonus depreciation, meaning you could accelerate the depreciation taken against capital expenditures. The new regime allows for 100% depreciation in the year of purchase. This front loads the benefit of capital expenditures, and REALLY helps out capital intensive companies, like say, a real estate developer (boy, is that a coincidence). What it also means, is that if you make $100, spend all of that $100 on machinery and equipment, you can deduct all of it, leaving you with taxable income of $0. Again, this is to incentivise investment and expansion. The feds are looking to get the income tax downstream, while all the other ancillary taxes get collected up front.

Another reason they might not owe tax, is because they are getting credit for taxes paid overseas, the Foreign Tax Credit, which are outstripping their US earnings. There are plenty of companies that make tons of money overseas, but lose money in the US. There are other companies that may make money in both the US and foreign jurisdictions, but the taxes paid in the foreign structure may outstrip the earnings in the US. The US gives you credit for taxes paid overseas against your US tax (no double taxation concept).

Finally, it should be noted that the $0 Amazon paid, was likely prior to the changes made under the tax cut from last year. If they are a calendar year filer, their first return under this new regime wasn't due until March 15th, with the 6 month extension, which pretty much all corporate filers avail themselves of, it is September 15th of this year; so this $0 liability is from the old regime.

Is it fair that Amazon pays $0 in Federal Income Tax? I'd actually say yes, given all of the above. I have no problem with incentivising investment and expansion. I don't think 100% depreciation is necessary, as a CPA, I'm generally more economically conservative, so I think the old depreciation regime worked just fine. This new regime turbo charges the need for expansion, since if you take 100% depreciation benefits, you have to keep doing it or the benefit runs out. It also depends a lot on the structure of the organization. I don't know the mix of Amazon's revenues, but I do know a ton comes from AWS. AWS might not be a US company. If Amazon makes a huge chunk of its money overseas, I can see them not owing US tax on that, depending on the aforementioned Foreign Tax Credits, and any loss carryovers; it gets way more complicated, but this is already too nerdy. I'm beginning to bore myself, and I do this for a living! That said, this new tax regime changed the way overseas income is taxed. Check the FIN-48 item reserves in companies 8 and 10-Ks, that might give you a hint as to whether or not the new tax regime is changing the tax burden on a specific multinational, in advance of their first return under the new regime.

All that said, if you want to talk Anti-Trust on Amazon, I'm all ears, I don't think anyone who controls 50% of the cloud (AWS) should exist as part of another, larger business (Amazon), there are definite issues with Amazon's model from a cultural perspective; but just because a company didn't pay taxes in a year that they made money, doesn't necessarily mean that it was improper, or even a bad thing, given the overall context of the earnings.

Should the tax laws be re-written to be less capital friendly, and more labor friendly? I'd say yes to that as well, considering the lowered marginal returns we are seeing using the current methodology. I think capital has had plenty of advantages over the last 40 years, and that our economy is overdue to move push the benefits the other way for a while. Just like the opposite was needed in the late 70s.
Fact is I was there lobbying against the pawnshops and secondhand dealers who have laws that rip the little guy off. I was not there for my agency, but for statewide organization. Through our actions a victim no longer has to purchase their stolen property back from these dealers as they now can go to the courts, not pay a filing fee, and get their property back. Since this change there were many many times I helped the victims get there property back by do the paperwork for them.

Having to fork out $50 to get a TV back may not seem so big to many here, but for the area that I work it was like asking the victim to hand over thousands of dollars. Anytime I could help the disadvantage made my day worthwhile.

My other times there I was walking the halls seeking support for a statewide computer system that would allow agencies to share pawn transaction. This system has been a huge success.
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Last edited by WaiverWire; 04-12-2019 at 12:49 PM.
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  #17305  
Old 04-12-2019, 01:06 PM
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Originally Posted by pete View Post
It’s not a separate issue at all. The government now has a colossal revenue problem.
A revenue problem due more from cutting the individual rates than the corporate tax rates, since that is where revenue from federal income taxes traditionally comes from. Note, this is only a problem because spending wasn't cut at the same time. Instead, we stupidly increased (military) spending while in an expansionary economy, but that is a separate conversation.

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Originally Posted by pete View Post
If you want to say it’s fair for an internet startup to not pay taxes while their building, that’s fine, but for a company that made $10B in profit to contribute $0 in corporate taxes at a time when the government has an acute revenue problem is insane.
Again, that is in a single tax year, which is offset by many prior years of losses. This is a thing, because believe it or not, Amazon has only become profitable recently, while it operated at a loss for a long time prior. NOL rules as they are mean they can bring those losses forward to knock out current year tax federal income tax liabilities (note, this isn't the same as all of the other indirect and ancillary taxes paid by Amazon that I have noted previously).

Quote:
Originally Posted by pete View Post
Basically, what you’re saying is that the government should accept entrepreneurship as an unfunded liability against public interests and social safety nets (ok)
Not exactly. I'm saying that in order to encourage the assumption of risk of capital (entrepreneurship), Treasury has said that if you lose money in one year, you can carry it forward against other years. Which is what Amazon is doing (I think). If there was no taxable incentive, the theory is that you would have far less investment, and because of that, far less in indirect and ancillary taxes (sales/use, withholding on dividends, interest, etc) that would only exacerbate revenue problems (fewer goods purchased, employees hired, etc.). Note, that when those companies invest in new ventures, the wages of people they hire, or additional wages that need to be paid out (law of supply and demand), have safety net taxes attached to them in the form of SS, FICA, et al. So those liabilities aren't really unfunded by entrepreneurship. The entrepreneurship, encouraged by the ability to carry losses forward against current income, actually helps fund the social safety net. If anything, SS is underfunded because of the cap, payee vs payor levels, as well as medical advances. SS is taxed on a far lower proportion of overall individual income (cap issue), and more people are living longer (medical advances) than when it was first conceived. So you have fewer people paying in than are taking out. We've not adjusted for those changes.

I would also like to note here that SS is (theoretically) a separate fund from the rest of the government, unlike infrastructure. Not sure about Medicare.
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Originally Posted by pete View Post
AND that even after entrepreneurs are successful we still shouldn’t expect any sort of remuneration for that risk.
Not at all what I've said at any point in any of what I've written. We are talking about timing differences. As I noted in my Wal-Mart example previously, once the NOLs get eaten up by current year earnings, then the company will have taxable income. Note, taxable income does not equal profitability, as prior year losses will mitigate current year income. How much capital do you think it took for Amazon to become profitable? To build out the infrastructure of most of the global internet backbone over the last 20 years? Of making it so that you can get almost anything delivered to your door the next day? Sometimes within a couple of hours? The amount of warehousing, logistics and people to make that happen is mind boggling. So they made money this year. They lost money for over a decade prior. Those losses are what they are burning through now, and once they are done burning through that, they will start paying taxes. Just like Wal-Mart, and every other profitable retailer did.

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Originally Posted by pete View Post
And, as you noted, Amazon is also living high off the teet of corporate welfare from local governments such as in Washington and Seattle, as well.
While an issue, it is one which has no bearing on your complaint about federal income tax levels paid in the current year, which don't affect your original complaint about federal funding levels. If anything, the arbitrage rate games played in corporate America over state and local taxes are state issues, and are never going to go away so long as you have states willing to do like Ireland, Singapore, India, etc do (I'll take 5% of something rather than 30% of nothing). This is a byproduct of our State tax concepts, which acts as a global tax field in microcosm.
Quote:
Originally Posted by pete View Post
At what point do big, successful corporations have to pay into the social good as responsible corporate citizens who recognize that nothing they accomplish in business could’ve happened without the collective investments provided to them on the front end and ongoing utilization on the infrastructure for commerce that governments are responsible for maintaining?
Well, they are paying into the social good in the form of their part of payroll taxes (SS/FICA), and they are paying whatever state and local taxes are levied against them (hopefully). If they are mature companies, and ones which haven't had years where they lost tons of money (GE), then they are paying federal taxes (Wal-Mart). If they have had years of losses and have only recently become profitable (Amazon), then they aren't paying federal income tax yet. Once they get through their loss carryforwards, they will join the ranks of the companies paying taxes. The tax cut changed the way carryforwards work, while at the same time pulling in foreign revenues which is a sea change in how income is taxed globally, whether or not that makes Amazon have tax liabilities more quickly, I have no idea.

As I've explained prior, they (as well as other shippers and retailers) are paying infrastructure maintenance taxes in the forms of fuel taxes, port fees, docking fees, etc. Maybe they are insufficient, I don't know. I'm not an indirect tax expert, I don't work on state budgets and I'm not in infrastructure. I've worked with DOTs a little bit in the past, so I'm familiar with their economics.
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  #17306  
Old 04-12-2019, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by WaiverWire View Post
Fact is I was there lobbying against the pawnshops and secondhand dealers who have laws that rip the little guy off. I was not there for my agency, but for statewide organization. Through our actions a victim no longer has to purchase their stolen property back from these dealers as they now can go to the courts, not pay a filing fee, and get their property back. Since this change there were many many times I helped the victims get there property back by do the paperwork for them.

Having to fork out $50 to get a TV back may not seem so big to many here, but for the area that I work it was like asking the victim to hand over thousands of dollars. Anytime I could help the disadvantage made my day worthwhile.

My other times there I was walking the halls seeking support for a statewide computer system that would allow agencies to share pawn transaction. This system has been a huge success.
Interesting. Thanks for lobbying on behalf of those changes. They seem like they make a lot of sense.
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  #17307  
Old 04-12-2019, 01:56 PM
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Interesting. Thanks for lobbying on behalf of those changes. They seem like they make a lot of sense.
The funny part was that though all of the hall walking it was hockey that got this done. I meet a fellow board member (JohnD) at one of the games and he made the mistake of asking how I was. After a frustrating few days in Tallahassee I told him what I was trying to do. Come to find out he was in charge of Gulf Coast Legal Aid. He asked me for the changes I wanted to make and thus I put these changes into a form. He took that form and gave it to the Bar Association, who approved of the form and asked the Florida Supreme Court to look at it. It took some time but the justices agreed there was a need and by a 7-0 vote they order this form to be in every county clerks office in the state.

I tried to get FSS 539 changed for 4 years and every year the corporate pawnbrokers killed it. When they found out that the form was approved by the FSC they tried to file a complaint against me with the sheriff. He through them out of his office.
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Old 04-12-2019, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by WaiverWire View Post
The funny part was that though all of the hall walking it was hockey that got this done. I meet a fellow board member (JohnD) at one of the games and he made the mistake of asking how I was. After a frustrating few days in Tallahassee I told him what I was trying to do. Come to find out he was in charge of Gulf Coast Legal Aid. He asked me for the changes I wanted to make and thus I put these changes into a form. He took that form and gave it to the Bar Association, who approved of the form and asked the Florida Supreme Court to look at it. It took some time but the justices agreed there was a need and by a 7-0 vote they order this form to be in every county clerks office in the state.

I tried to get FSS 539 changed for 4 years and every year the corporate pawnbrokers killed it. When they found out that the form was approved by the FSC they tried to file a complaint against me with the sheriff. He through them out of his office.
Nice Job WW
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  #17309  
Old 04-12-2019, 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted by pete View Post
Here's a reminder of the outcome of one of the laws that Waiver advocated in his never-ending quest to, "change the law for the betterment of people and not corporations".


Quote:
Amazon says it "pays all the taxes we are required to pay in the US." Yeah, I know. You made more than $10 billion in profits last year and you were required to pay $0 in federal corporate taxes. That's the problem.
url]https://twitter.com/ewarren/status/1116436194240409601[/url]

GTFO of here you crazy old man.

Typical post by you pete. Funny how you failed to post that in 2017 Amazon also paid zero in taxes......and this is before the Trump tax cuts.
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Old 04-12-2019, 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by WaiverWire View Post
Typical post by you pete. Funny how you failed to post that in 2017 Amazon also paid zero in taxes......and this is before the Trump tax cuts.
Snopes fleshes out a bit how Amazon paid no taxes in 2017 in this link

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/am...al-taxes-2017/
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