Average Massachusetts Taxpayer Would Have to Pay $636 to Make Up for Offshore Tax Haven Abuse, Small Businesses, $3,349

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MASSPIRG and Small Business Leaders Release Picking up the Tab: Average Citizens and Small Businesses Pay the Price for Offshore Tax Havens

MASSPIRG Education Fund

Boston—With Tax Day approaching, a new report released by MASSPIRG found that the average Massachusetts tax filer in 2011 would have to shoulder an extra $636 tax burden this year in order to make up for revenue lost from corporations and wealthy individuals shifting income to offshore tax havens. The report additionally found that if they were to cover the cost of the corporate abuse of tax havens in 2011, the average Massachusetts small business would have to pay $3,349.

“When corporations shirk their tax burden by shifting profits legitimately made in the U.S. to offshore tax havens like the Caymans, the rest of us must pick up the tab through either cuts to public spending priorities, higher taxes, or more debt,” said Deirdre Cummings, Legislative Director for MASSPIRG. “Responsible small businesses are further hurt by corporate tax dodging because they are put at a competitive disadvantage since they can’t hire armies of well paid lawyers and accountants to use offshore tax loopholes.”

Every year, corporations and wealthy individuals avoid paying an estimated $100 billion in taxes by shifting income to low or no tax offshore tax havens. Of that $100 billion, $60 billion in taxes are avoided specifically by corporations. A GAO study found that at least 83 of the top 100 publically traded corporations use offshore tax havens.

The report recommends closing a number of offshore tax loopholes, many of which are included in the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act (H.R. 2669) and Cut Unjustified Tax Loopholes Act (S.2075). Congressman Michael Capuano, Somerville, a cosponsor of the legislation said, “This report makes clear that ordinary taxpayers and small businesses are burdened by the use of offshore tax havens. It’s long past time to close the loopholes that allow large corporations to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. The use of these tax havens means that there is less money available for the needs of our country, from education to infrastructure improvements.”

“Taxes are not just numbers in spreadsheets,” said Joseph Rotella, owner of Spencer Organ Company in Waltham. “Taxes provide the revenue that pay for roads, bridges, public safety, public schools, public transportation and other infrastructure and services my business and my customers count on. We need to stop the tax haven abuse that lets big corporations avoid paying their fair share and gives them an unfair advantage in the marketplace.”

Congressmen Michael Capuano, Somerville; William Keating , Quincy; Edward Markey, Malden; James McGovern, Worcester; John Olver, Amherst; and John Tierney, Salem, have all cosponsored the bill.

Using complex tax avoidance schemes, many of America’s largest corporations drastically shrink their tax bill:

  • Google uses techniques nicknamed the “double Irish” and the “Dutch sandwich,” involving two Irish subsidiaries and one in Bermuda – a tax haven – that helped shrink its tax bill by $3.1 billion between 2008 and 2010.
  • Wells Fargo paid no federal income taxes between 2008 and 2010 despite being profitable all three years in part due to its use of 58 offshore tax haven subsidiaries.
  • G.E. received a $3.3 billion tax refund in 2010 despite reporting over $5 billion in U.S. profits to shareholders. The company has $94 billion parked offshore and uses 14 tax haven subsidiaries.

“It is appalling that these companies get out of paying for the nation’s infrastructure, education system, security, and large market that help make them successful,” concluded Cummings.

Click here for a copy of “Picking up the Tab: Average Citizens and Small Businesses Pay the Price for Offshore Tax Havens.”

Click hereto see an earlier study showing 30 companies that paid more in campaign contributions and lobbying expenses than they did in federal income taxes.


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MASSPIRG is a state wide, member supported, non-profit and non-partisan consumer advocacy organization