With Tax Day just ahead on April 17th, John Oliver focused the main segment of Sunday’s Last Week Tonight on that dreaded non-holiday – which he dubbed “the government’s GoFundMe page.” Many Americans feel perplexed and infuriated by the our tax system – including rapper Cardi B, who recently posted a viral Instagram rant on the subject. And as Oliver noted, those frustrations multiply when you consider that many massive companies exploit loopholes to drastically reduce, or altogether avoid, their taxes.
In late 2017, Republicans passed the controversial tax reform bill, which reduces the top Federal corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent. But companies have been circumventing their tax burdens for decades through numerous financial maneuvers, like moving their corporate headquarters or funneling funds to overseas to countries with low or non-existent tax rates, including the Cayman Islands or Panama.
Oliver detailed the tax tactics of tech companies like Google, who licensed intellectual property to a subsidiary in Ireland and funneled the profits through the Netherlands and Bermuda, which has a zero percent corporate tax rate. That trick, the comedian cracked, has its own weird name: the “Double Irish With a Dutch Sandwich.” “[That] sounds like a disgusting sex act or an even more disgusting Waffle House menu item,” Oliver joked. “It’s when someone opens up a baked potato, farts in it and closes it again really quick.”
Trump’s tax bill does force companies to pay taxes on all the money they’ve stashed overseas – at a slashed rate of eight to 15.5 percent – in hopes of “repatriation” that will ultimately lead to job creation. You can’t prove this approach won’t lead to new jobs, Oliver admitted, but he argued you could say the same thing for “dipping [a] badger in fudge.”
“There are legitimate debates over how and how much we should tax corporate profits. But we just had a huge chance to reform our tax code, and we absolutely blew it,” the host summarized. “On Tuesday, as you scrape together your taxes and wonder, like Cardi B, wonder what Uncle Sam is doing with your ‘motherfucking money,’ rest assured that Donald Trump’s tax reform continues to let companies engage in sophisticated tax avoidance schemes. And to those companies, I say this: ‘On behalf of America, please enjoy this ‘Double Irish With a Dutch Sandwich.’ I made it myself – eat it while it’s hot.”