In the past, if a business owner wanted to take out a political ad, he had to pay for it himself. Now, in the post-Citizens United world, he can have his company take it out instead, and that’s exactly what the president of a small company in Texas did recently. Matt Yglesias comments:
If nothing else, this suggests that Citizens United is going to be a significant tax break for politically active smallish business owners. If you used to be a guy who shelled out $10,000 a year on political contributions, then you used to need to pay yourself substantially more than that in nominal salary, then pay taxes on the money, and then hand out the ten grand. Now if you own the business, you can have the company pay and then instead of it being income on which you pay tax, it becomes an expense for the business.
Yeah, it’s nice to be able to use pre-tax dollars for this kind of thing, isn’t it? I’m still a notable squish on the whole subject of Citizens United, but we’re now pretty clearly dealing with an unlevel playing field. Corporations aren’t just being treated like people, they’re being treated better than people.
UPDATE: Apparently this isn’t right. In fact, political expenditures by corporations are required to come out of after-tax dollars. This might still provide a tax advantage depending on what tax rates apply, but it’s not as black-and-white as Matt or I suggest.