Close Corporate Tax Loopholes

Across the country, some of the nation’s most prosperous people and companies — including GE, Google and Goldman Sachs — have avoided paying the taxes they owe, costing taxpayers $150 billion just last year.

TAX HAVENS COST US $150 BILLION A YEAR

No company should be able to game the tax system to avoid paying what it legitimately owes. And, yet, with atleast 83 of the nation's top 100 publicly traded companies establishing shell companies in offshore havens to avoid taxes, this is becoming more the rule than the exception. 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. 

Most recent academic studies estimate that about $150 billion in tax revenue is lost every year to offshore tax havensThe result? Cuts to public services, additional taxes today or additional debt to be paid by the next generation. 

It’s not illegal, but it’s not right.

Meanwhile . . . the average taxpayer paid $1,026 more to cover the billions that GE and others skipped out on last year, companies that don’t use these schemes keep struggling to compete with those that do, and state legislatures and Congress are considering deep cuts for essential public programs — from education, to health care, to clean air and drinking water.

We're being asked to tighten our belts and make sacrifices while giving the tax haven crew a free ride. Illinois PIRG is pushing for commonsense 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

Media Hit | Tax

Guest Column: Walgreens: Europe’s neighborhood drugstore?

Recent reports indicate that Walgreens, our neighborhood drugstore that’s been proudly based in Illinois for 113 years, may be changing its address to Europe to avoid paying its fair share of taxes.

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Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund and Citizens for Tax Justice | Tax

Offshore Shell Games 2014

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.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG 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 Abbot Labs and Caterpillar – to maintain subsidiaries in offshore tax havens as of 2013, according to the report “Offshore Shell Games,” released today by Illinois PIRG Education Fund and Citizens for Tax Justice. 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 | Illinois PIRG | Tax

Taxpayers Win, as Justice Department Blocks Credit Suisse Tax Write Off

On Tuesday, the Justice Department acted in the best interests of taxpayers by blocking Credit Suisse from writing off their $2.6 billion settlement for aiding tax evasion. The unpublicized stipulation will likely save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars by preventing the bank from treating the payment as an ordinary business cost on its taxes.

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Media Hit | Tax

Close corporate tax loopholes

"Many U.S.-based multinationals, which do their business here in the U.S. using our infrastructure and educated workforce, can make profitsearned here appear on the books in offshore tax havens. This tax haven abuse costs us $90 billion each year."

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News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Tax

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

A new poll released today confirms what has long been apparent: The public overwhelmingly disapproves of corporations taking tax write offs for out-of-court settlements for wrongdoing, and has a strong preference for federal agencies to be both more transparent and more restrictive of tax deductions for future settlements. Substantial majorities across party lines would support reforms and greater transparency.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG | Tax

Offshore Tax Havens Cost Average Illinois Taxpayer $1,396 a Year, Illinois Small Business $4,588

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. Illinois PIRG released a new study today entitled, “Picking up the Tab: Average Citizens and Small Businesses Pay the Price for Offshore Tax Havens” which revealed that the average Illinois taxpayer in 2013 would have to shoulder an extra $1,396 in taxes to make up for the revenue lost due to the use of offshore tax havens by corporations and wealthy individuals.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Budget

New Report: Illinois Receives a “B+” in Annual Report on Transparency of Government Spending

Illinois received a B+ when it comes to government spending transparency, according to “Following the Money 2014: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data,” the fifth annual report of its kind by the Illinois Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) Education Fund.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG | Tax

Victory for Taxpayers and Consumers as Justice Dept. Denies Toyota $1.2 Billion Write-Off in Criminal Probe Settlement

Today, the Justice Department acted in the best interests of taxpayers and consumers, by denying Toyota a hidden $420 million tax benefit on its settlement for misleading consumers about dangerous car malfunctions. One line of text in the settlement made the difference: “Toyota agrees that it will not file a claim, assert, or apply for a tax deduction or tax credit.”

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News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Tax

Illinois could save $108 million with simple, proven method to curb offshore tax dodging, new study finds

A simple reform, which has already been proven effective in Montana and passed in Oregon, would require companies to treat profits booked to notorious tax havens as domestic taxable income.

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Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund & Frontier Group | Budget, Tax

The Hidden Cost of Offshore Tax Havens

When U.S. corporations and wealthy individuals use offshore tax havens to avoid paying taxes to the federal government, it is an abuse of our tax system. Tax haven abusers benefit from our markets, infrastructure, educated workforce, and security, but they pay next to nothing for these benefits. Ultimately, taxpayers must pick up the tab, either in the form of higher taxes, cuts to public spending priorities, or increased national debt.

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Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Budget

Transparency in City Spending

The ability to see how government uses the public purse is fundamental to democracy. Transparency in government spending checks corruption, bolsters public confidence, improves responsiveness, and promotes greater effectiveness and fiscal responsibility.

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Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Tax

Subsidizing Bad Behavior

BP’s recent $4.5 billion legal settlement with the Justice Department for its misdeeds in the Gulf oil spill was historic for being the largest ever criminal settlement. But it was historic for another reason as well—none of it is allowed to be tax deductible. Unfortunately, too many settlements for wrongdoing end up as tax deductions.

 

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Report | Illinois PIRG | Budget

What America Could Do With $150 Billion Lost to Tax Havens

Tax avoidance costs the federal government $150 billion in tax revenue each year. Illinois PIRG released new data illustrating the size of this loss with 16 dramatic initiatives for which the $150 billion could have paid and also by demonstrating the impact of this amount on the fiscal cliff.

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Report | Illinois PIRG | Tax

Jobs and TIF

Illinois PIRG’s report “Jobs and TIF: An Analysis of Job Creation and Tax Increment Financing” analyzes the records of 21 TIF-funded projects from the last decade with the biggest number of promised jobs – each project examined was required to create at least 200 jobs. The report checked to see whether the city is making sure developers are living up to their promises. 

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Blog Post | Tax

Will Rahm's TIF reforms go far enough? | Celeste Meiffren

Yesterday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that he will be immediately implementing some of the reforms proposed by his Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Reform Panel five months ago. All of the proposed reforms are necessary to fix TIF and need to become law before more of our tax dollars are wasted.

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Blog Post | Tax

Case Study: Republic Windows and Doors | Celeste Meiffren

Every week, Tax Dollars and Sense offers a case study to analyze the problems with TIF. This week we will look at the Republic Windows and Doors project within the Goose Island TIF District.

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Blog Post | Tax

Case Study: The Central Loop TIF District | Celeste Meiffren

Every week, Tax Dollars and Sense will offer a case study to analyze the problems with TIF. This series will start with the most famous TIF district-- the Central Loop.

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Blog Post | Tax

Recommended Resolutions for Rahm in 2012 | Celeste Meiffren

Here are some recommendations for what Rahm’s New Year’s Resolutions ought to be so City Hall gets the reform that it needs.

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Blog Post | Tax

Not a cause for celebration | Celeste Meiffren

Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced his budget with a pledge to end the smoke and mirrors, and as it passed unanimously, aldermen celebrated a 'new day' for the City. But despite some improvement to end past gimmicks, the budget still includes misleading accounting tricks that hide a tax increase from public scrutiny.

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