Off-Shore Tax Havens Cost Michigan Taxpayers $295 a Year

Media Contacts
Meghan Hess

Loopholes Allow Many Corporations to Pay Less Than Individuals and Households

PIRGIM Education Fund

Royal Oak, MI – Michigan taxpayers gathered at the Royal Oak post office on Monday to show their support for closing loopholes that allow 83 of the 100 largest corporations in America to avoid an estimated $100 billion a year in taxes by hiding their profits overseas. 

At the event, advocates from the Public Interest Research Group in Michigan Education Fund and representatives of Progress Michigan and A Better Michigan Future called on Congress to close the loopholes and put Michiganders back to work.  

“It is unacceptable that many individuals and households pay more in taxes than some of the largest multinational corporations,” said Meghan Hess, PIRGIM Education Fund Program Associate. “Reports of giant corporations which make billions in profits, like G.E., paying little to nothing in income taxes in 2010 show us that the time for reform is now.” 

According to Tax Shell Game: How Much Did Offshore Tax Havens Cost You in 2010?, a new PIRGIM report released today at the event, the use of offshore tax havens results in $434 in additional tax burden for taxpayers around the country. Here in Michigan, it’s $295 per taxpayer. Many individuals and households may end up paying significantly more than G.E. and other large corporations will pay in income taxes in 2010.

The report highlights how major corporations and some individuals avoid federal taxes by “off-shoring” the profits they make here in the U.S. or by setting up sham headquarters in tax haven countries, leaving ordinary taxpayers to foot the bill.

“As Michigan taxpayers, we have to pay our taxes on-time and in full and corporations should too,” said Frank Houston, campaign director for A Better Michigan Future. “Tax day is a great reminder that it’s time we end these tax loopholes that allow big corporations to avoid paying their fair share at the expense of small businesses and taxpayers in Michigan, shortchanging our ability to pay for world-class schools and critical services that impact public health and safety.”

In the weeks and months leading up to Tax Day, Congress debated the national debt, rising deficits, and across the board cuts to a range of public priorities such as food safety inspectors, Pell grants and clean air and water programs. State organizations PIRGIM, Progress Michigan and A Better Michigan Future today called on Congress to address the deficit by closing corporate tax loopholes, rather than cutting public priorities. 

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

 “We need a plan that works for Michigan working families, not just a select few,” said Leigh Fifelski, communications director, Progress Michigan. “Taxpayer funded handouts for big corporations and millionaires have done nothing to move the country forward.  Instead of cutting Medicare and taking away funding for job training programs, let’s end tax breaks and close these loopholes for corporate CEO’s and millionaires.” 

 “Main Street businesses and ordinary taxpayers without access to an army of accountants to devise elaborate tax avoidance schemes are forced to pick up the tab every year,” said Hess.  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?” 

Click here to read the Tax Shell Game report.

To learn more about the companies who lobby against reforms, read PIRGIM Education Fund’s report, Who Slows the Pace of Tax Reform.

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PIRGIM Education Fund, the Public Interest Research Group in Michigan, is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy organization.