Statement of Illinois PIRG Tax and Budget Advocate Dan Smith on the introduction of the No Federal Contracts for Corporate Deserters Act, introduced by Senators Richard Durbin and Carl Levin in the Senate, and Reps. DeLauro and Doggett in the House.
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.
"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."
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.
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. Instead, ordinary taxpayers end up picking up the tab, either in the form of higher taxes, cuts to public spending priorities, or increases to the federal debt.
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.”
Some U.S.-based multinational firms and individuals avoid paying U.S. taxes by using accounting tricks to shift profits made in America to offshore tax havens—countries with minimal or no taxes. They benefit from their access to America’s markets, workforce, infrastructure and security; but they pay little or nothing for it—violating the basic fairness of the tax system and forcing other taxpayers to pick up the tab.
Even when tax haven abusers act perfectly legally, they force other Americans to shoulder their tax burden. Every dollar in taxes they avoid by using tax havens must be balanced by other Americans paying higher taxes, coping with cuts to government programs, or increasing the federal debt.
Academic studies conclude tax haven abuse costs the United States approximately $150 billion in tax revenues every year. Multinational corporations account for $90 billion and individuals the rest.
With Tax Day approaching, it’s a good time to be reminded of where our tax dollars are going. Illinois PIRG released a new study that revealed the average Illinois taxpayer in 2012 would have to shoulder an extra $1,058 in taxes to make up for the revenue lost due to the use of offshore tax havens by corporations and wealthy individuals.
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.
Tax havens are countries or jurisdictions with minimal or no taxes. Corporations and individuals shift earnings to financial institutions in these countries to reduce their U.S. income tax liability—costing the federal government $150 billion in lost revenues each year.
Federal taxpayers are not the only victims of offshore tax havens. Tax havens deprive state governments of billions of dollars in badly needed revenues as well. Based how much income is federally reported in each state, and on state tax rates, it is possible to calculate how much each of the state governments lose as a result of offshore tax dodging. In 2012, the state of Illinois lost $2.5 billion.