Amazon will pay $0 in federal income taxes for the second year in a row


February 13, 2019

Amazon, which doubled its profits and made more than $11 billion in 2018, won't pay any federal income taxes for the second year in a row, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy reported on Wednesday.

The company will not be required to pay the standard 21 percent income tax rate on its 2018 profits, and is claiming a tax rebate of $129 million, which ITEP describes as a "a tax rate of negative 1 percent."

Amazon drew ire in 2018 for not paying federal taxes on its $5.6 billion in profits the year before, which was made possible due to tax credits and stock-based compensation, reports Politifact. Last year was the first time Amazon paid no federal income tax whatsoever.

From 2011 to 2016, Amazon payed federal income tax at a rate of 11.4 percent — less than half of the national rate of 35 percent. Due to President Trump's corporate-friendly tax cuts, Amazon will pay any deferred or postponed taxes at the lowered rate of 21 percent rather than the previous rate of 35 percent, per Politifact.

Based out of Washington state, which has no income tax, Amazon has also been free from state filings on income. Marianne Dodson

12:00 p.m.

Amazon announced on Thursday that it would no longer move forward with plans to build a second headquarters in New York City, The New York Times reports.

The campus, planned for Long Island City in Queens, faced opposition from local lawmakers, who expressed concern that the company would get significant subsidies in the deal. "We do not intend to re-open the HQ2 search at this time. We will proceed as planned in Northern Virginia and Nashville," said Amazon in a statement, referring to plans to build a campus in Crystal City, Virginia, and an operations center in Tennessee. "A number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward with the project."

The company had promised to bring 25,000 jobs to the area, and was slated to receive $3 billion in state and city incentive packages. "For Amazon, the commitment to build a new headquarters requires positive, collaborative relationships with state and local elected officials who will be supportive over the long-term," read the statement. "We are disappointed to have reached this conclusion." Read more at The New York Times. Summer Meza

11:13 a.m.

Ready yet. Get set. It's All That ... again.

Nickelodeon is reviving the classic sketch comedy series All That, with original star Kenan Thompson set to produce, Variety reports. The revival will feature a new cast but original stars are expected to make appearances. Originally airing from 1994 through 2005, All That featured a rotating cast of young stars including Thompson, Amanda Bynes, Kel Mitchell, and Nick Cannon.

Thompson, who is now a cast member of Saturday Night Live, told Variety that All That "means everything to me." In addition to launching the careers of actors like Thompson and Bynes, All That also spawned several successful spin-offs, including Kenan & Kel and The Amanda Show, the latter of which got a spin-off of its own, Drake & Josh. All That's Good Burger sketch also launched a 1997 film that Thompson starred in.

This isn't the only revival headed to Nickelodeon — the network is also planning to bring back the game show Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader, The Wrap reports, with wrestler and actor John Cena taking over hosting duties from Jeff Foxworthy. And the Nick news doesn't stop there, with Variety also reporting that SpongeBob SquarePants spin-offs are on the way, as are TV shows based on the Paddington and Lego movies.

All these new projects come as Nickelodeon President Brian Robbins is plotting a slate that will get a Netflix-obsessed generation of kids interested again, saying that while filling their airwaves with a lot of episodes of a small number of programs used to be acceptable, now, they need "a constant number of new shows coming." Brendan Morrow

10:43 a.m.

After a particularly rough few weeks for President Trump, in which his approval rating plummeted while Americans blamed him for the partial government shutdown, some of his supporters are suddenly feeling more optimistic about 2020.

A new report from Politico details how Trump's advisers, who are keeping a close eye on Democrats running for president in 2020, are feeling "a mix of relief over the field’s sprint to the left." Those in Trump's inner circle apparently believe that the eventual Democratic nominee is going to be "an out-of-the-mainstream liberal" who the president should have no trouble beating.

Additionally, Politico writes that Republicans are "heartened" by the Democrats not having a clear frontrunner at this point, feeling they "lack a singular figure" who would be able to defeat Trump. Republicans also evidently giddy over some of the difficulties early Democratic candidates have run into, with Republican donors at a recent retreat reportedly celebrating claims of Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) treating her staff poorly, as well as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) apologizing for identifying as Native American.

This Politico report is certainly a change of pace following a New York Times report from amid the partial government shutdown, which said that Trump's associates say he "appears without a plan for mounting a strong campaign in 2020" and could even face a primary challenge. So whether Trump's supporters really should be feeling this confident about 2020 is up for debate, but a recent Gallup poll did show Trump's approval rating jumping up seven points to his best number since October.

But it sounds like Trump's team is a little less confident about the president's ability to defeat a more moderate Democrat, with Trump and his advisers feeling former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) are two potential candidates who could be tough to beat. Brendan Morrow

10:03 a.m.

President Trump really doesn't want former Vice President Joe Biden to be the Democratic nominee in 2020's presidential race, and some are convinced he'll get his wish.

Trump thinks Biden would be his "most formidable" 2020 rival, Politico reported on Thursday. The former vice president, Trump believes, could "appeal to a wider swath of voters" than some of the other Democratic candidates and potentially steal some of his voters away in the Midwest.

But the report notes that many in Trump's inner circle don't think Biden will become the Democratic nominee even if he does decide to run, thinking he's not far-left enough for some Democrats and that certain positions of his, such as his support for the Iraq War, will come back to haunt him in the primaries.

That's assuming Biden does decide to join the race at all, which certainly isn't a sure thing. In fact, a new report from The Washington Post says Biden is still "quietly agonizing" over whether he should run, with some of his supporters growing frustrated that no decision has been made yet and potential staffers joining rival campaigns. Biden still says he will make a decision soon, exactly what he said in January, but one source familiar with the discussions told the Post, "he is running out of time." Brendan Morrow

9:31 a.m.

Actor Jussie Smollett is speaking out in his first TV interview since he was the victim of an attack police have been investigating as a possible hate crime.

Smollett told Good Morning America on Thursday that he is "forever changed" after two men allegedly beat him while shouting racial and homophobic slurs. The Empire star says this occurred while he was leaving a Subway in Chicago late at night and that the attackers yelled, "This is MAGA country."

Some had called his account into question in recent weeks, seizing on certain details such as Smollett not wanting to hand over his phone to police, although he did give over redacted records, and police have said he has been cooperative and that his account is consistent and credible. Smollett told Good Morning America that he wanted to protect his privacy and the privacy of his friends and family by not giving over his phone. He also said that he was taken aback by people doubting his account of what happened.

"It's not necessarily that you don't believe that this is the truth," he said. "You don't even want to see the truth."

Smollett, who said he's "pissed off" by these people who claim he's lying, also speculated that no one would doubt his story if the men who attacked him were Muslim, Mexican, or black. This "says a lot about the place that we are in our country," he added. Watch a portion of Smollett's interview below. Brendan Morrow

8:45 a.m.

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe has confirmed that Justice Department officials in 2017 discussed whether the 25th Amendment could be invoked to remove President Trump from office.

CBS's Scott Pelley revealed Thursday that, in an interview with McCabe set to air on 60 Minutes Sunday, he goes on the record about the 25th Amendment talk. "There were meetings at the Justice Department in which it was discussed whether the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet could be brought together to remove the president of the United States under the 25th Amendment," Pelley said, summarizing the McCabe interview.

These meetings reportedly came in between Trump's firing of former FBI Director James Comey and the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Pelley notes that McCabe is the first source to go on the record to confirm The New York Times' reporting in September that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein discussed getting Cabinet officials to declare Trump unfit to serve as president. According to Pelley, McCabe says they were "counting noses" and discussing which Cabinet members "would be with us."

That Times report also said Rosenstein suggested wearing a wire to secretly record Trump, and McCabe confirms this in the 60 Minutes interview. McCabe additionally tells CBS he began an FBI investigation into Trump because he was afraid he would be "removed quickly."

This interview comes ahead of a new book McCabe is set to publish, in which he writes, according to an excerpt published by The Atlantic, that Trump is a "deliberate liar who will say whatever he pleases to get whatever he wants." Brendan Morrow

8:01 a.m.

Lyndon LaRouche Jr., a candidate for president every election from 1976 to 2004 — including one run from inside jail, in 1992 — died Tuesday, his political action committee confirmed Wednesday. He was 96. LaRouche was a “philosopher, scientist, poet, statesman," the PAC said in a statement, and "those who knew and loved Lyndon LaRouche know that humanity has suffered a great loss, and today we dedicate ourselves anew to bring to reality the big ideas for which history will honor him."

LaRouche's politics were hard to define — he began as a member of the Socialist Workers Party in the late 1940s and 1950s, ran for president first as a U.S. Labor Party candidate and then an independent or independent Democrat, and he called himself heir to the proto-Republican Whigs in 1986 — but he was best known for his enduring conspiratorial theories.

LaRouche, for exampled, maintained that the queen of England was involved in drug trafficking and the International Monetary Fund was "engaged in mass murder" by spreading AIDS, a disease he promoted other conspiracy theories about. He said the Holocaust was "mythical," The Associated Press notes, and called Zionism "cult nonsense." He claimed that former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and 1984 Democratic presidential nominee Walt Mondale were Soviet "agents of influence" and more, as in this 1984 campaign ad.

In 1988, LaRouche was convicted of tax fraud and mail fraud, serving about nine years of his 15-year sentence. His followers, who solicited money and passed out leaflets at airports and other public places while he was in prison, were so devoted that loved ones reportedly hired "deprogrammers" to abduct them. Peter Weber

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