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Do Corporations Pay State Taxes?

David Lagstein, director of the SD Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, and Steven Gill, a professor at SDSU's School of Business, talk to KPBS about corporations' state taxes.


David Lagstein, Director, SD Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment

Steven Gill, Professor, SDSU School of Business


Protestors from the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, or ACCE, gathered outside the corporate headquarters of Sempra Energy today to declare big businesses pay little or no taxes and to demand disclosure of the last five years of state tax returns.

Seventeen major California corporations paid no income tax between 2008 and 2010, including six with offices in San Diego, according to the nonprofit research group Citizens for Tax Justice. Those six are Computer Science Corp., Con-way, Ryder System, Wells Fargo, Honeywell and Verizon.

AB 2439, a bill headed to the California Senate floor, would require corporations to disclose their state taxes. Currently, there is no such requirement.

David Lagstein, the director of San Diego's ACCE branch, said the rally this morning attracted people who were "puzzled and outraged" over the fact that Sempra made $1.1 billion in profit last year "and yet in 2010 they didn't pay any state taxes if you add up their 50 states across the country, what they paid in taxes."

He added his group wants to know how much big companies pay in taxes and if those companies benefited from corporate tax loopholes.

"Because the impact on our state budget is so devastating," he said.

KPBS asked Sempra for comment in response to ACCE's claims, but they did not respond.

Steven Gill, a professor at San Diego State University's School of Business, said tax laws do not necessarily favor corporations.

"The tax law is a function of what the legislatures decide to write and favoritism would be relative to some other standard," he said.

Since the economy has gone down, he said tax laws have been pro-growth and business-oriented to stimulate the economy.

"Of course, that comes at a cost," he said.

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