U.S. PIRG Opposes Congressional Deal to Extend and Make Permanent Tax Breaks Costing $830 Billion Without Paying for Them

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Chris MacKenzie

$86 Billion of Unjustified Corporate Tax Loopholes Continued


Washington, D.C. – U.S. PIRG urges the Congress to reject the proposed budget and tax break deal announced late Tuesday.  The deal extends or makes permanent about 50 tax breaks that add $830 billion to the deficit over 10 years[1]. The proposed deal does not pay for any of these new costs. 

In addition to the fiscal irresponsibility of the deal, two provisions in the package are a particularly bad deal for the American public, extending or making permanent two tax loopholes [the CFC look through rule (5 year extension) and The Active Financing Exception (made permanent) which enable corporations to book profits to offshore tax havens by pretending on paper that their money is being made overseas in countries with little to no tax while the company has little more presence there than a P.O. Box.

“It’s bad enough that this deal has no pay-fors, but it adds insult to injury when the deal includes the continuation of special interest tax loopholes that serve no useful purpose. When Congress chooses to give big tax breaks to corporations, the average American has to pick up the tab in the form of higher taxes, cuts to public programs, and an increased national debt,” said Ana Owens, Tax & Budget Advocate for US PIRG. “Not only do these loopholes hurt the average taxpayer but they also put small businesses at a competitive disadvantage since they don’t have armies of lawyers to navigate these loopholes.”

Since the tax extenders are routinely evaluated as a package and are written into the tax code, lawmakers rubberstamp them without offsetting their high cost and without the scrutiny they would normally apply to spending programs of comparable size.

Another abuse of the budget process is the addition of ‘policy riders’ that have no connection to the budget. U.S.PIRG has called for a clean budget with no riders.  Of greatest concern among the riders that remain in this latest proposal are two specific riders that prevent federal agencies from continuing work on rules that would require special interest groups and corporations to disclose their political spending.

“Poll after poll shows that Americans from across the political spectrum want our elected officials to take a stand against secret political spending and big money politics,” said Dan Smith, Democracy Campaign Director for U.S. PIRG. “Politicians can’t pass campaign finance rollbacks in a fair vote, so instead they’re attaching last-minute riders to must-pass legislation.”

Another rider lifts the 40 year ban on oil exports which is a huge gift to oil corporations and will inevitably lead to more drilling, more spilling, and more global warming pollution. 

“Caving to the oil industry on the crude oil export ban flies in the face of the scientific imperative to start leaving fossil fuels in the ground. We need to do much more to decarbonize the nation and the world and to protect the planet for future generations.” Said Margie Alt, Executive Director of Environment America.

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 [1] Committee for A Responsible Federal Budget. December 2015. http://crfb.org/blogs/negotiated-tax-deal-would-cost-about-650-billion