March 31, 2014

1,359 Lobbyists Agree: Corporate Tax Breaks Should Be Passed in Secret

By Frank Clemente, Executive Director, Americans for Tax Fairness

Wall Street is literally banking on our silence this year.

One of the biggest offshore tax loopholes that rewards big corporations for stashing their profits in tax haven countries is about to get renewed. And if Citigroup, Prudential Financial, Bank of New York Mellon, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Principal Financial Group, State Street Corp., American Express and General Electric get to decide, they’ll make sure you hear almost nothing about it — and do nothing, too.

Americans for Tax Fairness and our friends at Public Campaign teamed up on a new report to shed a little sunlight on the big corporations that are lobbying for a bill of 55 mostly corporate tax breaks, known inside the Beltway as “tax extenders.”

These breaks are worth $700 billion every decade. It’s a big deal.

handshakeBig banks and GE to Congress: “Let’s just do this quietly, like last time.”

We found in the report that there are a whopping 1,359 lobbyists trying to usher these 55 tax breaks through yet again. That’s one out of every 10 lobbyists registered in DC right now, and it adds up to 2.5 lobbyists for every single member of Congress.

General Electric and that list of banks above — which is pretty much a “Who’s Who” list of Wall Street — are all lobbying hard for that offshore loophole, which we call the “GE loophole.” They call it the “active financing exception.”

Whatever you call it, this loophole is worth $63 billion in giveaways for those corporations and others over the next decade. Tha’’s $63 billion MORE that you may have to help pay for, or $63 billion LESS to invest in our country.

The GE loophole is prized by some of the worst tax-dodging corporations out there. We found that the 11 corporations that spend the most lobbying for it paid an average tax rate of just 10.4% (based on the data we could obtain for 2008 to 2012).

General Electric alone gets $24 in tax refunds — yes, refunds — from the U.S. government for every $1 it spends on lobbying. Much of that is due to just this one loophole.

Don’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of it. Wall Street doesn’t want us to talk about it. That’s why they work so hard behind the scenes to get Congress to quietly renew this break and others, year after year.

If you’re fine with this, don’t read our new report. But if you’ve had enough, get the rest of the facts and let’s get the word out.

If we keep quiet, GE and the banks win again.