March 17th, 2009
12:10 PM ET

Senate committee to explore taxing AIG bonuses

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Senate Democrats want to tax the controversial bonuses doled out to AIG employees who work for the division that led to the company's downfall.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced on the Senate floor Tuesday that the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee will pursue a legislative fix in such a way that the "recipients of those bonuses will not be able to keep all their money - and that's an understatement."

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Montana, will propose a special tax within the next 24 hours, Reid said.

"I don't think those bonuses should be paid," Baucus said Tuesday.


soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. Denise Morak

    Just listening to the AIG CEO on CNN. Why do you keep pussyfooting around? Come on!!!! On a Sat. night to hand out the bonuses? Are you STUPID to allow him to say that it was business as usual? I am infuriated. They wanted THEIR bonuses...pure and simple greed, and to hell with the country. They (AIG0execs should all be let go, like half of working class America has been , and now that the gov't. owns them, they should bring in honest, hard-working folks from other compainies who have had to have been let go. When is enough enough!!!!!????? Get a grip! Let's start calling a spade a spade!!!! I am fed p!!!!!

    March 18, 2009 at 1:57 pm |
  2. Steven

    Yes, the tax code can single out employees of organizations that has received Federal bailout money in 2009 to be responsible for the added tax. Once the Bill is passed, the US Treasury can inform the effected institutions to tax withhold the added amounts from the remaining salary payouts of the individuals affected for the rest of the year. Those employees who left the effected organization but yet took bonuses will risk facing penalties for owing tax in excess of the standard 5% of their earnings. This is on top of the added tax that they will be responsible for. The tax payers will get back those bonus money over the course of 2009.

    March 18, 2009 at 2:28 am |
  3. Annie Kate

    I like the idea of taxing just the AIG bonus recepients at 100% to get the bonus money back. I'd like to seem them given a choice though – either turn the money back in or pay it to the IRS at 100% and be fired. I bet the majority would pay it back. No one has been thinking at that company much less caring about the country or they would have been the first to say don't give us the bonuses. In this economy for the last few decades everyone is just out for themselves.

    March 18, 2009 at 12:41 am |
  4. Wardell katrina survivor

    What are some of you crying about? the tax is on bonues being paid to the London office, whom was responsible for the greatess part of theAIG, MESS,congress was in a rush, because George"s treasury sec., said the sky was falling!!! True, some may have taken this opportunity to do things, they couldn't over the past eight years, but ask yourself, watch happen to ALL the money??? What's being spent now, is simply feel good spending, we have to pay for the MESS, left before this. All that talk about socialism, is a bunch of BULL!!! The people who got OUR money are RICH, are YOU, I didn,t think so! "OXCYCONTIN RUSH", is RICH, are YOU, quit falling for the hogwash, wake-up, and study some american history, then maybe, just maybe, things will start to make sense?? DAAA !!

    March 17, 2009 at 10:47 pm |
  5. Leah

    No doubt the tax on bonuses will leave untouched the executives from AIG and other troubled companies taking a ride on the taxpayers. Instead, it will probably tax those who get small incentive payments. What can we expect from a Congress that votes raises for itself and tells us "little people" to eat cake? What did the President and Congress think would happen when they fling billions at failing companies with no guidelines or restrictions? If the big bonuses are taken away how will these guys contribute to their friendly politicians?

    March 17, 2009 at 10:40 pm |
  6. justine

    Let AIG fail.

    With banks bailed out there is little or no credit lending, home foreclosures at record levels, Bail out this business and that business with no strings attached, jobs lost continue and record levels.

    They have this process backwards.

    We Don't need insurance, can't borrow money to buy a house and no money to put in the bank.

    We have no job, so all of the above is mute.

    The narrow slot of jobs that are created by the stimulas there may as well be no stimulas program.

    But did not expect much from Congress the President and his posse.

    A little help too late for too few. and must not need any assistance to get help.

    ps if AIG is hiring I want a job..getting good at doing nothing well and I could use the 500,000 bonus. I know I can do as well

    March 17, 2009 at 10:31 pm |
  7. Digvijay Singh

    It is frustrating to see that incompetence and unfaithfulness rewarded so openly. These AIG thugs have ruined the lifetime earnings of American hard working citizens, and our impotent politicians, lawyers and society let them do it. They should be stripped naked and all their assets taken over and throw these AIG thugs in the street where they really belong. Give the money to Ethical hard working, and caring officials who can really turn things around. Put their names on TV everyday and socially bycott them. I thought Obama will bring the change but did not realize he is one of the thugs too.

    March 17, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  8. Theresa

    Oops sorry AIG

    March 17, 2009 at 10:28 pm |
  9. Ataxpayer2

    Nothing will change until the taxpayers DEMANDS change. Until we start demonstrating, demanding members of congress, senators and all elected officials take drastic cuts in pay to compensate for their stupidity, for their greed, and for some, their unethical behavior. The majority of Americans are victims of the greed of Wall Street, banks and corporations. We are fed up with our having to make "adjustments." Main Street America has had to take cuts in pay and in benefits, our hours have been cut, the union workers have had to make major cuts but I have not seen or heard of one politicians having to take a cut in pay or in their bloated benefit package they receive at the expense of taxpayers. The majority of members of congress and senators are multi-millionaires who could well afford to take major cuts. No, it is Main Street who has to make sacrifices due to the malfeasance of politicians. No more tax cuts, no more pay cuts, no more benefit cuts until Washington takes responsibility for their part in this financial crisis. In fact, start with Bush and Cheney cut them off completely. If they can afford to spend millions on a mansion, they can afford to go for a year without pay.

    March 17, 2009 at 10:28 pm |
  10. bobby rodriguez

    Stop wasting tax money paying congressmen and women and senators to figure out what happen with the AIG issue and move on, the tax payers will never get this money back.

    March 17, 2009 at 10:25 pm |
  11. Steve

    Granted that AIG is a Grinch, but so is B of A, ML, and Citi Bank. If Congress will pass legislation to return AIG bonuses to the taxpayer, then all the other greedy execs on Wall Street should be punished as well.

    March 17, 2009 at 10:25 pm |
  12. kent howard

    i'm mentally disabled,, i have been fightibg all my life for anything i need.. i am now 53 and have other disabilities,. i would love to help fat cats in DC line their pockets with AIG money.,, and let the poor and sick fester-up and lose all we have.,,. i'm lucky , i'm a veteran and after 30 years got congressman waxman to help me recive 70% service connection,.,

    March 17, 2009 at 10:25 pm |
  13. eugene ryman jr.

    listen to wwl radio 870 on your dial....there talk show host s are pushing paying the bonuses because they have sign contracts....even though the folks getting the bonuses are the people who caused aig to go bad.....but they support desolving or renegociating the labor contracts for unions with the car companies

    March 17, 2009 at 10:24 pm |
  14. Angelique

    No amount of explaining the situation gets me to the point where I understand why AIG is "too big to fail." Of course they can fail, and in my humble opinion, they certainly have. If AIG goes down, it will open the door for better run, more profitable companies to take over their accounts. Sooner or later, everyone will be re-insured and re-hired.

    I'm no brain surgeon, but I've been wondering for several years now who it is that allowed AIG to be come so large and to have so much power. No one can tell me that people with more knowledge than I have couldn't see this on outcome on the horizon several years ago.

    I'm beginning to get a very clear picture that we have a deficit of honesty and integrity in both the Democratic and Republican camps. For goodness' sake, it's about time that someone began to do the right thing for this country even if it costs them an election.

    March 17, 2009 at 10:23 pm |
  15. bobby rodriguez

    This bell has already been rung, once you ring a bell you can' t unring it. Congress has fumbled the football and can't recovery it. Congress has already given the money to AIG they cannot take it back. What congress did was unconstitutional to begin with. Congress cannot take the money that is collected by the people and give it to charity, that's just not right. When we allow man to handle the money gathered by a tarriff we have aloud the posibility of corrusption and favortism, congress does with the tax dollars as they see fit, this is why this happened, the people should decide what the money is used for. If congress has the power to give a 600.00 dollar stimulus chech then they have the power to give 100,000 dollar stimulus., see the problem? IT'S NOT THEIR'S TO GIVE!

    March 17, 2009 at 10:22 pm |
  16. cj-tampa

    perhaps CNN could help the American People better understand why

    AIG can't fail by giving the company a numeric rating worldwide. ex. 2nd in the world.

    please give us some perspective.

    March 17, 2009 at 10:21 pm |
  17. Annette Martysus

    As the majority owner of AIG I would like to know exactly which of my employees got their bonus' , what their names are, what they are doing with their money, and if they have any moral values. My family needs to see the dentist, we need physical check ups, will the company I own give us a discount on insurance so we can be healthy? As I write this I will be putting out a collection bag for the boy scouts who are gathering food for the local food bank. I'm appalled that I hesitated to do this but I figure at least our family can still eat. I remember the stories my parents told me about the great depression and I am truly afraid. I know we have to hang tough, but what will happen to our children..............

    March 17, 2009 at 10:20 pm |
  18. Theresa

    Let the bank fail. I don't care how many customers are insured with them.They should have thought about that. If we as home owners can be dropped by our insurance companies after being with them for 30+ years and then told sorry you have to find another insurance company then so can IAG. Let their customers find other insurance companys. I am sure there are many small business insurance companys that would be glad to take them on as clients.

    March 17, 2009 at 10:19 pm |
  19. Ken

    I'm still angry over the fact that my money is not only letting the employees keep their jobs & salaries, but also rewarding them with a bonus. If AIG had to pay the bonuses, why couldn't they pay their employees with stock valued at the price per share of when they signed the agreement to pay the bonus. It certainly would show how much harm they caused their company.

    March 17, 2009 at 10:19 pm |
  20. Carolyn

    Stop giving out money with no strings attached! In fact, just stop giving out our money so freely. When you are giving out billions of taxpayer dollars - there should be a lot of strings attached and some specific rules/laws to govern oversight of that money. This is not a free-for-all on the taxpayer!

    March 17, 2009 at 10:18 pm |
  21. Peter N (MN)

    What AIG executives are doing, is no other thing but what we call 419 in Nigeria. We are living with thousands of congressionalized criminals, prodigal executives, and heart-hardened 419er in this country. American taxpayers should know that we have more 419ers in Financial Institutions, than other countries combined. Unfortunately, when AIG use taxpayers money to lobby Washington, that is what we call "Bribery ". It is time we stop giving legalized criminal act baptismal names.

    March 17, 2009 at 10:17 pm |
  22. Patrish

    I understand that AIG insures many, however no company is indispensible. If I had insurance with AIG, I would leave them. I refuse to believe that the world would fall apart if AIG was forced to file Chapter 11. Those who use AIG to be insured need to leave them...I can't believe we would all fall to pieces if a movie wasn't made because the star could not get insurance! Give me a break! AIG needs to step up to the plate; and instead of taunting the government with their 'nanny nanny boo boo', they need to fork over the money we gave them in the package, the bonus receivers need to give back the money and they need to file chapter 11. AIG...for heavens sake...show some integrity!

    March 17, 2009 at 10:17 pm |
  23. Kevin Stansbury

    Wake Up America!

    We are paying for AIG and all of their employees. They are insuring us, our business, and our lives. Our 401k;s, our homes, and our cars.
    Then we pay them with our taxes to bail them out, and then give them a bonus for losing all of this hard earned money.

    Let them fail! Those who are hurt by it; I am sorry; this is life; and we will help you pick up and move on and move forward because we are Americans. Stop crying and about these thieves; the wovlves in sheep's clothing.

    We need 800,00 nurses, we need Border patrol agents, we need cities rebuilt. Yes, you may not make $30 $40, or even $50 dollars an hour, but you will be alive, you will love life and you will be helping Americans and at the same time building bonds with neighbors that will make our country even stronger and this will defeat terrorism and get us our of this mess that WE put ourselves in too.


    March 17, 2009 at 10:17 pm |
  24. nic

    anyone check how congress is spending? cant imagine they are submitting expenses for motel 6's and happy meals? I agree some bank spending is out of control but i think those who live in glass houses shoulding be the first to throw stones...what do you think b. frank?

    March 17, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  25. Denis Reilly

    How long can it be before there are cries of "guillotine!" in the streets.

    This feigned indignation is a smoke screen for moronic bureaucrats who are becoming more convinced they should have stayed out and let the chips fall where they may. And how long will it be until the scum sniffing lawyers launch their class action suits on behalf of everyone who believes in capitalism?

    God bless the children who have to live with the consequences of the knee jerk jump to socialism, if it lasts that long.

    March 17, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  26. earle,florida

    I'd like to say that Pelosi & Co. and others using government corporate jets to fly themselves back in forth on the taxpayers dime,should relinquish those perks, and fly commercial! Didn't they just give themselves a "Cost of Living Raise",and thumb their noses up to the public? My discord has nothing to do with AIG,but congress's lack of leadership in the past 30 years,where all the bums rewrote the laws inacted during the "Great Depression"! Please understand that the Glass-Steagall Act was gutted methodically over that period [(30 yrs.)(under Dem's & Rep's)] and in Nov/1997 didn't get any fanfare (yea,no big deal) from even the press. Secondly, starting in 1989 through (92/94/95/99/) 2005 the "Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) " was a rock-solid law that muted the FDIC Law Act for 90% of bank regulation creating the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac Mortgage Banking debacle! Finally we had the "Sarbanes-Oxley Act (7/30/02) ", that was supposed to instill guide-lines for "Public Accounting Reform & Investor Protection",that was emasculated to non-existent ,and you wonder where to put the blame? Remember this about people,and human nature,"Fear is an emotion indispensable for survival" ! Quote:Hannah Arendt Thanks, Happy St. Patricks Day CNN ,especially Anderson!

    March 17, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  27. Jim Cook

    If there are currently no legal means to prevent bonuses that have been or will be paid to staff of AIG and other financial institutions that have received TARP or other "bailout" funding, could the Congress not revise the federal tax code so that any bonuses received would be taxed at 100% (including retroactivity, if necessary)? Taxpayers MUST not be required to reward the recklessness, gluttony, and incompetence that have brought us to the brink of ruin.

    March 17, 2009 at 3:09 pm |
  28. Joe G. (Illinois)

    So Obama earns less (By the millions less) than most if not all them AIG people.. But they are still not the one’s printing money as if it all were napkins heading to China..!! Obama never happy. That’s for sure..

    March 17, 2009 at 2:59 pm |
  29. Joanna Bevan

    What about all the others who have received bonuses? Why isn't the press looking into the top executives at Morgan Stanley, Citi or Smith Barney who were rewarded significant sums of money while their clients lost fortunes last fall. Those top exec were given financial incentives to either stay at their jobs or to move to different brokerage firms. AIG is not the only firm who has paided bonuses to their top execs while when they were in financial trouble.

    March 17, 2009 at 2:58 pm |
  30. Joanne Pacicca, Solvay, NY

    There should be no discussion of taxing bonuses...severance pay, etc....fire them, find people vastly more capable...and if that is not possible let AIG fail. Where is the oversight committee ?

    March 17, 2009 at 2:54 pm |
  31. REGINA

    One of my friend's friend who works as a chef in AIG cafeteria said they did a lots of banquets(AFTER WORK) for their boss in their mansions. All the expenses, even O/T paid by company ( Is this belong to personal or company's expense ???????????????????)

    March 17, 2009 at 2:34 pm |
  32. JC-Los Angeles

    Exploring the taxing of AIG bonuses? huh? say what? come again? that's like holding meetings to discuss water supplies after the neighborhood has burned to the ground.

    How about a committee meeting to finally resolve matters of oversight, accountability and corporate malfeasance?

    Harry Reid, what a visionary.

    March 17, 2009 at 2:29 pm |
  33. prettyblkgyrl

    I meant to say "I like the idea of establishing escrow accounts"

    March 17, 2009 at 2:26 pm |
  34. prettyblkgyrl

    I like the idea of ryanlishing escrow accounts.

    But in reality this is all just an act by congress to appease the American public. As I mentioned in a previous statement – congress is full of lawyers. (as the actual elected official or as part of their legislative staff) So it's hard for me to believe that this was an innocent oversight. They omitted the bonus clause(s) to keep their lobbyist happy. I'm ready to see DC overhauled.

    March 17, 2009 at 2:25 pm |
  35. Michele Gomis

    Too little and too late but do it, do it, do it NOW, and make it retroactive and structure it so that NO company that recieved, receives, or will recieve bail out help can pay greed money to reward staff who messed up the company in the first place.

    (Bafflement..."retention" bonuses to keep GOOD talent? Huh? If this is to reward GOOD talent what do they do for the medocre and no-talent crowd? Do they have a sliding scale of "retention" payouts? Or perhaps punishments for "bad" (honest) staff?)

    I know the world is upside down. Here's proof.

    March 17, 2009 at 1:49 pm |
  36. Carl

    This is ridiculous. Its like someone wanting car insurance after they wrecked their car. Or fire insurance after the house burned down. Gimme a break these guys are so ignorant they just keep making one stupid move after another and wanting me to pay for it.

    Just goes to show you what happens when the democrats are the majority. SPend and tax spend and tax spend and tax.

    What happens when we Americans start to push back and say no more, no more spending my money.

    March 17, 2009 at 1:47 pm |
  37. Gary W. Fuller

    Let’s consider this approach…

    Have the bonuses required by contract placed in escrow accounts in the names of the individuals that are due them. When and if AIG is profitable, and, when/if AIG pays back the Government loans, the amounts in the escrow accounts are paid to the employees. If they don’t return to profitability and/or if they don’t repay the Government loans, they never receive their bonuses. This better than taxing them at 100%, or having the employees “commit suicide,” as was proposed. In the strictest sense of the word, AIG will have upheld the terms and conditions of the contract by using the escrow account approach, with some conditions.

    March 17, 2009 at 1:34 pm |
  38. C. Grand

    Why has there been no uproar over the Congressional Cost of Living Increases. Not only was there an opportunity to stop the automatic increases after an amendment was introduced last week, but it was voted down. Now there is an effort at trying to introduce a bill to discontinue the automatic pay increases....and this goes unnoticed while all the blather is directed toward AIG. The Congressional Pay Increases should be highlighted on all broadcasts in my opinion and should be a concern to every voter.

    March 17, 2009 at 1:32 pm |
  39. Cindy

    I just want to know how are they going to tax these bonuses. You can't make one tax law that will only affect one company and not the rest of the nation. HELLO..everyone gets bonuses not just AIG. To make a new tax law on bonuses will affect everyone. Is that really fair!?


    March 17, 2009 at 1:23 pm |
  40. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    In a rush to pass the bail-out bill for AIG, and which appears that no one read the bill nor did they include a clause for no bonus pay-outs--now Congress is going to tax the bonuses--I'm afraid gentelmen--it is too little-–and it is to late-–the ransom has been paid-- Congress has been played--and the American taxpayer bought another pig-in-a-poke. My congratulations to all.

    March 17, 2009 at 1:21 pm |