Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Proposed Tax Cuts To Benefit Banks and Builders

As part of the monster stimulus package currently being cobbled together in Washington, under a new tax break, companies would be allowed to carry back losses for five years instead of only two and get a nice fat rebate check from the government.  Companies that had huge profits during the economic boom had to pay a bunch of taxes on those profits.  Now that they have lost buckets of money in 2008 and stand to lose even more in 2009, they're stuck with all of these pesky losses that they really use, other than to stick them on their balance sheet, call them "deferred tax assets," and hope against hope that someday they will make money again so they can use the losses to offset taxes.  What really irks me the most is that this tax break benefits companies that were the worst risk managers in the corporate universe, those that mismanaged their businesses so poorly that they have wiped out any gains they made when the economy was surging.  Which companies fall under this distinguished umbrella?  Why the homebuilders and banks, of course.  Although clearly cyclical companies who should at a minimum have pulled the reigns in when conditions appeared overheated, the homebuilders can be considered complicit in the housing bubble, as their financing arms were all offering the latest in exotic mortgages.  So, why exactly do these guys deserve a huge tax refund?  Certainly the CEOs who were dumping their stocks in record amounts in 2005 are not being asked to return their gains because the profits the homebuilders posted during those years were an illusion.  Who else would stand to gain from this new tax rebate?  Everyone's favorite bailout candidate Citigroup, who had net deferred tax assets of $13.6 billion at the end of 2007.  After already receiving over $45 billion in capital infusions from the government and another $300 billion in guarantees against future losses, does Citi really need tax rebates from the government?  For the love of God, can we give our tax dollars to someone else?  Please?   

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