Twitter Fact-Checks Biden’s Claim That Companies Paid No Taxes
Twitter Fact-Checks Biden’s Claim That Companies Paid No Taxes

By Rita Li

Twitter flagged President Joe Biden’s claim that “55” big corporations nationwide paid no taxes for 2020, as the platform affirmed that “only 14” of them were eligible to be taxed.

Biden took to Twitter to boast about his Inflation Reduction Act last Friday, using one of his favored data targeting big companies. “Let me give you the facts,” the president wrote in an Oct. 28 post. “In 2020, 55 corporations made $40 billion. And they paid zero in federal taxes. My Inflation Reduction Act puts an end to this,” Biden asserted.

Attached to Biden’s post accompanies a notice from Twitter’s experimental new fact-checking program known as “Birdwatch,” including reader-added context that “people might want to know.”

The note cited a 2021 analysis by the Washington Post, saying “Out of the 55 corporations the tweet references, only 14 had earnings greater than $1 billion and would be eligible under Biden’s law.”

Biden’s inflation law, signed into law this August, institutes a 15 percent minimum tax for corporations making over $1 billion a year in a bid to tamp down national inflation. Yet experts have warned the Democrat-backed law will not reduce inflation as claimed and might end up harming the American economy.

The bill also grants the Internal Revenue Service $80 billion in taxpayer dollars to hire some 87,000 new agents.

It came after the president had repeated this number at least 40 times since last April, either in speeches or interviews, according to Factbase, a website that tracks Biden’s public statements.

The number of “55” firstly comes from a report (pdf) issued last April by Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. The left-leaning think tank alleged those profitable corporations avoided all federal income taxes despite collectively earning almost $40.5 billion in pre-tax 2020 income.

However, the remaining 41 companies—with per income less than $1 billion during the year—would not be subject to the corporate minimum tax even if Biden’s ambitious measure were in place.

Birdwatch

Twitter launched Birdwatch ahead of the upcoming midterm elections. The new feature is visible to users in the United States and normally contains additional, rated sources for a deeper dive into a certain subject.

“Context on Tweets—by the people, for the people—is coming to everyone in the US,” said the company in an Oct. 6 post. The crowdsourced “fact-checking” program is an additional layer of “facts” put on contents that the company considers “misinformation,” ranging from science and politics to entertainment and random bits of information.

Birdwatch notes are not written by Twitter Inc., said the company, to ensure that diverse groups of people can help identify misleading information.

Based on survey results by the company, a user is 20–40 percent less likely to agree with a tweet containing potentially misleading information when it features Birdwatch notes. Twitter claims that a user is 15–35 percent less likely to Like or Retweet a tweet with a Birdwatch note.

“The bird is freed,” Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk said via the platform late Thursday night, before posting “let the good times roll” a few hours later.

A White House spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Naveen Athrappully contributed to this report.

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