Close Corporate Tax Loopholes

PERVASIVE TAX AVOIDANCE— Legislative Director Deirdre Cummings presents the MASSPIRG Education Fund's Picking up the Tab 2015 report with Representative Josh Cutler (Duxbury) and Senator Mark Montigny (New Bedford), chief sponsors of a bill that would help close these corporate tax loopholes that cost Bay Staters $2.9 billion last year.

LOOPHOLES COST Bay Staters $2.9 BILLION

No company should be able to game the tax system to avoid paying what it legitimately owes. And, yet, establishing shell companies in offshore havens for the purpose of tax avoidance is becoming more the rule than the exception for at least 83 of the nation's top 100 publicly traded companies. GE, Google, Goldman Sachs and dozens of others have created hundreds of phantom entities with nothing more than a clever tax attorney and P.O. box.

The official estimate of how much Americans lose in tax revenue last year is $110 billion. That's money that is shouldered by average taxpayers, either through additional taxes today or additional debt to be paid by the next generation.

It’s not illegal, but it’s not right.

The result? The average Massachusetts small business would need to pay $4,031 to make up for the $110 billion that G.E. and others using offshore tax havens skipped out on - making it difficult for them, and larger companies that don’t use these schemes, to compete with those that do.

Meanwhile, the Massachusetts Legislature and Congress are considering deep cuts for essential public programs—from education, to health care, to clean air and drinking water. They’re asking us to tighten our belts and make sacrifices, while giving the tax haven crew a free ride.

A better solution? Require companies to treat profits made in Massachusetts and funneled to known tax havens like the Cayman Islands as domestic taxable income. MASSPIRG is working hard to pass a state bill, An Act closing a corporate tax haven loophole, sponsored by Representative Josh Culter (Duxbury) and Senator Mark Montgny (New Bedford) and co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 54 legislators, that would do just that -- saving Massachusetts taxpayers $79 million a year.

Issue updates

News Release | MASSPIRG | Budget, Tax

MASSPIRG PRAISES BIPARTISAN BILL REINTRODUCTION PROHIBITING TAX WRITE-OFFS FOR WRONGDOING

Today in Washington DC, U.S. Senate leaders Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Jack Reed (D-RI) reintroduced The Government Settlement Transparency and Reform Act, which would restrict the ability for corporations to reap massive tax write-offs from payments made to settle allegations of misconduct or criminal wrongdoing.  

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News Release | MASSPIRG EDUCATION FUND | Tax

Study: 70% of Fortune 500 Companies Used Tax Havens in 2013

Tax loopholes encouraged more than 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies – including some companies headquartered in Massachusetts – to maintain subsidiaries in offshore tax havens as of 2013, according to “Offshore Shell Games,” released today by MASSPIRG Education Fund and Citizens for Tax Justice.

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Report | MASSPIRG EDUCATION FUND | Tax

Offshore Shell Games

Tax loopholes encouraged more than 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies – including some companies headquartered in Massachusetts – to maintain subsidiaries in offshore tax havens. Collectively, the companies reported booking nearly $2 trillion offshore for tax purposes, with just 30 companies accounting for 62 percent of the total, or $1.2 trillion.

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News Release | MASSPIRG EDUCATION FUND | Budget, Tax

Poll: Public Wants Federal Agencies to Disclose and Restrict Corporate Tax Write Offs for Out-of-Court Settlements

In recent years, public outrage has built as federal agencies have allowed out-of-court settlements for corporate wrongdoing — like BP’s gulf oil spill and JPMorgan’s toxic mortgages — to be written off for multibillion-dollar tax breaks. See new poll confirming public outrage and support for solutions.

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Budget, Tax

Offshore Tax Havens Cost Average MA Taxpayer $1,886 a Year, MA Small Business $6,269

As hardworking Americans file their taxes today, it’s a good time to be reminded of how ordinary taxpayers pick up the tab for the loopholes in our tax laws. 

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Media Hit | Budget, Tax

Bill aims to woo Broadway-bound shows

Deirdre Cummings, the legislative director for the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group, does not want any new tax credits until there is a proper study done to determine the value of existing credits.

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Media Hit | Budget, Tax

City faulted on spending transparency

New report grades trancparency Boston's spending. 

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News Release | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Budget, Tax

Transparency In City Spending

New report reviews and grades the nation’s thirty largest cities including Boston on how effectively they allow the public to track budgets, contracting, subsidies, grants and requests for quality-of-life services.

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Media Hit | Tax

Look offshore to avert the fiscal cliff

There are better ways to use $150 billion than having it sit in a P.O. box in the Caymans. With the fiscal cliff on the horizon, closing offshore tax loopholes should be an obvious first step to solving our budget woes.

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Budget, Tax

First Step to Avoid the Fiscal Cliff: Close Offshore Tax Loopholes

With Congress scrambling to agree on ways to reduce the deficit, MASSPIRG joined with business, legislative and community leaders today to point out a clear first step to avoid the “fiscal cliff”: closing offshore tax loopholes. Many of America’s largest corporations and wealthiest individuals use accounting gimmicks to shift profits made in America to offshore tax havens, where they pay little to no taxes.  This kind of tax avoidance costs the federal government $150 billion in tax revenue each year.

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Report | Good Jobs First | Budget, Tax

Money for Something

States are spending billions of dollars per year on corporate tax credits, cash grants and other economic development subsidies that often require little if any job creation and lack wage and benefit standards covering workers at subsidized companies. These are the key findings of Money for Something: Job Creation and Job Quality Standards in State Economic Development Subsidy Programs, a 51-state “report card” study published today by Good Jobs First, a non-profit, non-partisan research center based in Washington, DC

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Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Budget, Tax

Tax-Increment Financing

Tax-increment financing (TIF) has been a leading tool for economic development.  When used properly, TIF can promote enduring growth and stronger communities. When used improperly, however, TIF can waste taxpayer resources or channel money to politically favored special interests.

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Toward Common Ground

This report documents the joint findings of the National Taxpayers Union and U.S. PIRG, identifying mutually acceptable deficit reductions.

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Tax Shell Game

National elected leaders have recently proposed a range of spending cuts. The vast majority of these cuts come from programs widely viewed as providing broad public benefits or serving national priorities, including programs providing access to higher education, food safety, product safety, clean air and drinking water, and financial sector oversight to protect consumers and avoid future bank bailouts. In addressing the deficit, our leaders should examine all areas of spending where programs do not deliver benefits to the public.

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Following the Money 2011

This report is U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s second annual ranking of states’ progress toward “Transparency 2.0” – a new standard of comprehensive, one-stop, one-click budget accountability and accessibility.The past year has seen continued progress, with new states providing online access to government spending information and several states pioneering new tools to further expand citizens’ access to spending information and engagement with government.

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