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Seattle PI
Rita R. Robison

On Tax Day, consumer group urges state taxpayers to protest corporate tax loopholes

Big corporations, including The Boeing Co., avoid up to $100 billion each year in federal taxes by “off-shoring” the profits they make in the United States or by setting up sham headquarters in tax haven countries. As a result, Washington taxpayers are left to make up the difference, according to the Washington Public Interest Research Group.

Federal loopholes

Residents of Washington each paid $390 extra to make up for the taxes that are avoided by corporations such as Boeing, which earned profits of $9.7 billion from 2008 to 2010 but paid no federal taxes due in part to its 38 subsidiaries based in offshore tax havens, according to the WashPIRG report “The Tax Shell Game – How Much Offshore Tax Havens Cost You in 2010.”

“It’s outrageous that Boeing and other major corporations can use subsidies from the state Legislature and lucrative contracts from the federal government to make billions of dollars in profits, and yet end up paying no income tax,” said Steve Breaux, an advocate for WashPIRG, said in a statement. “The result is that the rest of us have to make up the difference. Many individuals and households end up paying more in taxes than some of the largest multinational corporations.”

Nearly two-thirds of corporations doing business in the U.S. pay no income taxes. Companies that received taxpayer-funded bailout money or receive huge government contracts and use tax havens include American Express, A.I.G, Exxon Mobil, Goldman Sachs, and Pfizer, according to WashPIRG.

“It’s bad enough that we’ve already paid to bail out the banks and other big corporations – is it fair to ask us to pay their taxes as well?” Breaux asked.

Congress is debating the national debt, rising deficits, and steep cuts to a number of government services such as food safety inspectors, Pell grants, and clean air and water programs. Today, WashPIRG asked Congress to address the deficit by closing corporate tax loopholes, rather than cutting public priorities.

State loopholes

WashPIRG said loopholes also are a problem at the state level.

“Businesses lobby for loopholes claiming the result will be a net benefit for everyone, but once the loopholes are created they’re treated as entitlements and never reviewed for their effectiveness,” Breaux said. “The Legislature needs to aggressively audit these giveaways and eliminate those that don’t have hard data showing they’ve increased net revenues for the taxpayers.”

WashPIRG offers a petition to protest tax loopholes for consumers to fill out that will be sent to members of Congress.

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