For years, I hoped to help stop multinational corporations from making a mockery of the tax system. Sound tax policy, I think, would take away U.S. corporations’ “deferral” incentive to operate abroad – and to their ability to claim, via income shifting and transfer pricing, more income came from abroad than they really have. And sound policy would tighten our rules to hammer runaway (expatriating) (“Benedict Arnold”) corporations – past, present, and future. And it would impose worldwide unitary taxation on all multinationals like many states did before the Federal Government stopped them.
But I made no progress. The rules of international taxation are so arcane that few can grasp them. An informed democracy would not put up with the puny arguments of the multinationals. But those arguments have a grain of truth, so we do put up with them, as do people in other so-called democracies of the world. All I can do is laugh. But hey, corporations been good to me. Many of us are living high, with material comfort undreamt of by the wealthiest rulers of yesteryear — from window screens to refrigeration to anesthesia. Make that comfort and luxury: We shall have music wherever we go – and information. Corporations, globalism, and free market capitalism are coming through materialistically — for some of us.
Having renounced the delusion that I could help arrange for the multinationals (or other inordinately wealthy “persons,” natural or Citizens United-certified) to pay what seems a fair amount toward keeping the Republic going, I’ve turned to a new target. Maybe commerce in marijuana is simple enough that shedding light on the revenue options will be useful. (Monopoly is an appealing model, but a tax and regulate model is carrying the day in the USA thanks to ongoing Federal Prohibition.) Marijuana should not belong in the same category as PCP and heroin. Legalization requires finding a middle ground, and tax is a tool you can adjust and tinker with to get there.
I feel like, even if international taxation is beyond us, the people of the United States of America have a chance to figure out marijuana legalization and taxation. Unlike multinationals, ganjapreneurs may not yet dominate the discussion of how the body politic should treat their commercial operations.
Regulatory capture happened long ago with multinationals and international taxation. I’m not saying it hasn’t happened yet for marijuana in Colorado and Washington, with marijuana taxes far below the levels of European cigarette taxes, but as a tax technician, I feel like I can do more good in the tiny pond of marijuana taxation than tilting against the enormously powerful multinationals. Wise men who understand international taxation better than I ever will have seen their wisdom fall on deaf ears. Luke 16:31.
So marijuana taxation is the focus of my thinking these days. As I congratulate myself on working for truth and justice, I remind myself of a cartoon figure who says to another cartoon figure, “First dibs on moral superiority.” Hmm.