Close Corporate Tax Loopholes

PERVASIVE TAX AVOIDANCE—Across the country, some of the nation’s best-known companies—including GE, Google and Goldman Sachs—have avoided paying the taxes they owe, costing Marylanders $3 billion last year.

LOOPHOLES COST MARYLANDERS $3 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 is $150 billion per year. 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 taxpayer paid $1,065 more this year to cover the $150 billion that GE and others that use offshore tax havens skipped out on. And small businesses and companies that don’t use these schemes have to struggle to compete with those that do.

Meanwhile, the General Assembly 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.

We are pushing for common-sense changes that simply say that if corporations are based here and generate profits here, then they should, like all of us who earn income here, pay the taxes they owe.

Issue updates

News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation and Citizens for Tax Justice | Tax

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

Tax loopholes encouraged more than 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies – including Stanley Black & Decker in Maryland – to maintain subsidiaries in offshore tax havens as of 2013, according to “Offshore Shell Games,” released today by the Maryland PIRG Foundation and Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ). 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.

> Keep Reading
Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation and Citizens for Tax Justice | Tax

Offshore Shell Games

Many large U.S.-based multinational corporations avoid paying U.S. taxes by using accounting tricks to make profits made in America appear to be generated in offshore tax havens – countries with minimal or no taxes. By booking profits to subsidiaries registered in tax havens, multinational corporations are able to avoid an estimated $90 billion in federal income taxes each year. These subsidiaries are often shell companies with few, if any employees, and which engage in little to no real business activity. 

> Keep Reading
Media Hit | Tax

Editorial: Improve online databases

“Big data” has become a catchphrase of our age, and Gov. Martin O’Malley is a professed believer in data-gathering and numbers-crunching as a tool in governing – hence, his much-heralded StateStat system. So it’s a little disappointing — if not surprising, given the usual bureaucratic resistance to change – that only modest steps have been taken to make this bonanza accessible to the taxpayers.

> Keep Reading
Media Hit | Tax

Slightly Brighter Sunlight

Maryland is gradually improving its scoring when it comes to being transparent to the public, having moved from a C to a B- in a recently released report card from the Maryland PIRG Foundation.

That grade could get better: Gov. Martin O’Malley signed into law this week legislation that may shine a little more light into the dark and dusty corners of state spending.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Tax

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

A new poll shows that Americans want federal agencies to better disclose information about out-of-court settlements with corporations and to restrict companies from writing off these payments as tax deductions.

> Keep Reading

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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation and Citizens for Tax Justice | Tax

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

Tax loopholes encouraged more than 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies – including Stanley Black & Decker in Maryland – to maintain subsidiaries in offshore tax havens as of 2013, according to “Offshore Shell Games,” released today by the Maryland PIRG Foundation and Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ). 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.

> Keep Reading
Media Hit | Tax

Editorial: Improve online databases

“Big data” has become a catchphrase of our age, and Gov. Martin O’Malley is a professed believer in data-gathering and numbers-crunching as a tool in governing – hence, his much-heralded StateStat system. So it’s a little disappointing — if not surprising, given the usual bureaucratic resistance to change – that only modest steps have been taken to make this bonanza accessible to the taxpayers.

> Keep Reading
Media Hit | Tax

Slightly Brighter Sunlight

Maryland is gradually improving its scoring when it comes to being transparent to the public, having moved from a C to a B- in a recently released report card from the Maryland PIRG Foundation.

That grade could get better: Gov. Martin O’Malley signed into law this week legislation that may shine a little more light into the dark and dusty corners of state spending.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Tax

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

A new poll shows that Americans want federal agencies to better disclose information about out-of-court settlements with corporations and to restrict companies from writing off these payments as tax deductions.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Maryland PIRG | Tax

Offshore Tax Havens Cost Average Maryland Taxpayer $1,259 a Year, MD Small Business $4,118

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. Maryland PIRG released a new study which revealed that the average Maryland taxpayer in 2013 would have to shoulder an extra $1,259 in taxes to make up for the revenue lost due to the use of offshore tax havens by corporations and wealthy individuals.

> Keep Reading

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation and Citizens for Tax Justice | Tax

Offshore Shell Games

Many large U.S.-based multinational corporations avoid paying U.S. taxes by using accounting tricks to make profits made in America appear to be generated in offshore tax havens – countries with minimal or no taxes. By booking profits to subsidiaries registered in tax havens, multinational corporations are able to avoid an estimated $90 billion in federal income taxes each year. These subsidiaries are often shell companies with few, if any employees, and which engage in little to no real business activity. 

> Keep Reading
Report | Maryland PIRG | Tax

Picking up the tab 2014

Every year, corporations and wealthy individuals use complicated gimmicks to shift U.S. earnings to subsidiaries in offshore tax havens – countries with minimal or no taxes – in order to reduce their state and federal income tax liability by billions of dollars. Tax haven abusers benefit from America’s markets, public infrastructure, educated workforce, security and rule of law – all supported in one way or another by tax dollars – but they avoid paying for these benefits.

> Keep Reading
Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Tax

Following the Money 2014

Every year, state governments spend tens of billions of dollars through contracts for goods and services, subsidies to encourage economic development, and other expenditures. Accountability and public scrutiny are necessary to ensure that the public can trust that state funds are well spent.

> Keep Reading
Report | Maryland PIRG | Tax

Closing the Billion Dollar Loophole

New report tells how some states have found a simple reform to reclaim significant revenue lost to offshore tax havens. Includes estimates of how much each state loses in state revenue to offshore tax haven abuse and how much each state would gain by closing the "water's edge" loophole.

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Apples to Twinkies 2013

At a time when America faces high obesity rates and tough federal budget choices, taxpayer dollars are funding the production of junk food ingredients. Since 1995, the government has spent $292.5 billion on agricultural subsidies, $19.2 billion of which have subsidized corn- and soy-derived junk food ingredients. These subsidies are all the more egregious at a time when America is facing an obesity epidemic. Children are three times more likely to be obese than their counterparts three decades ago.

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Blog Post | Budget, Tax

Senate Budget Debate Shows Bipartisan Support for Closing Offshore Tax Loopholes | Jenny Levin

A bipartisan group of senators agree that closing offshore tax loopholes, which allow large profitable companies to dodge billions in taxes, needs to be part of the budget.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Budget, Food, Tax

MAD ABOUT THE FARM BILL | Jenny Levin

Earlier this month, the House Agricultural Committee passed its version of the Farm Bill with a 35-11 vote.  It was greatly anticipated, as the country needs a fair and common sense bill that cut wasteful spending. In years past, the Farm Bill has given out tens of billions in taxpayer dollars to large, mature agribusinesses, and subsidized commodity crops that are often processed into the junk food ingredients fueling the obesity epidemic.  Between 1995 and 2010 we gave out $260 billion in agricultural subsidies to the country’s largest farming operations. With the expiration of the present Farm Bill coming in September, Congress has an opportunity to end this wasteful corporate welfare.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Budget, Food, Tax

Ending Subsidies for Big Ag in the Farm Bill | Michael Russo

Current food policy has disproportionately subsidized the largest agribusinesses, who are already profitable and don’t need taxpayer handouts. And subsidized crops have often been used to produce unhealthy food. The current scheme of agriculture subsidies, including the notorious Direct Payments program, is heavily skewed towards largest agribusinesses, with only 4% of U.S. farmers pocketing 74% of subsidy payments. Directing taxpayer dollars to these mature, profitable businesses enriches them and allows them to prosper at the expense of smaller, unsubsidized farmers, without any benefit to the taxpayers who are footing the bill. 

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Blog Post | Food, Tax

Maryland PIRG Advocate Jenny Levin on the Senate vote today to approve the 2012 Farm Bill: | Jenny Levin

Maryland PIRG is disappointed in the Senate’s approval of the 2012 Farm Bill, which will send tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to Big Ag. The Senate missed a golden opportunity to tackle the problem of wasteful agricultural subsidies, which have cost taxpayers $260 billion since 1995.  Instead, this bill recommits to taxpayer support for the largest agribusinesses. 

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Blog Post | Food, Tax

Senate Farm Bill Moves to Floor | Jenny Levin

The Senate is moving to vote on the farm bill, S.3240, that would continue the current system of agricultural subsidies to large, profitable, agribusiness. Taxpayers’ hard earned dollars will be handed out needlessly in the billions. And subsidies will continue for corn and soy, which is then processed into junk food ingredients, like high fructose corn syrup, accelerating the obesity epidemic in America. 

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Priority Action

The Stop Tax Havens Abuse Act would put an end to the price and profit shifting that allows publicly traded companies to engage in pervasive tax avoidance.

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