PORTLAND, Maine — With the second anniversary approaching of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case – which opened the floodgates to corporate spending on elections –U.S. PIRG and Citizens for Tax Justice reveal 30 corporations that spent more to lobby Congress than they did in taxes.
The report, Representation without Taxation: Fortune 500 Companies that Spend Big on Lobbying and Avoid Taxes takes a close look at one area where corporate power and influence is on full display: corporate tax policy. By exploiting loopholes and special provisions in the tax code, 280 consistently profitable Fortune 500 companies paid about half the statutory corporate tax rate while spending $2 billion to lobby Congress on tax policy and other issues. The report also looks at the “Dirty Thirty” particularly aggressive tax avoiders that spent more on federal lobbying than income taxes between 2008 and 2010. Twenty-nine of these corporations actually received a net tax rebate during the three year period of the study.
The fact that so many corporations can spend more money lobbying than they pay in taxes makes a mockery of our tax code and our democracy.
The report takes a deeper look at one of the most egregious ways corporations skirt taxes – by shifting profits legitimately earned in America to offshore tax havens, where they are subject to little, if any taxes. At least 22 of the thirty companies studied had subsidiaries in tax haven countries.
Corporations should not be able to shirk their tax burden by using gimmicks to game the tax code. When corporations don’t pay, ordinary taxpayers and responsible small businesses are left to shoulder pick up the tab.
The “Dirty Thirty” companies all told made $163.7 billion in profits while paying zero dollars in federal income taxes and collecting a total of $10.6 billion in various tax rebates. Meanwhile, they collectively spent $475.7 million in lobbying expenses for the three year period.
On the second anniversary of Citizens United, corporate tax dodging should be seen as a cautionary tale. In the wake of that disastrous decision, special interest influence will only continue to grow and policy will reflect that unless we get corporate money out of elections.
Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, joined the two organizations in criticizing the Citizens United decision and its affect on democracy, “Citizens United has opened the door to an obscene amount of corporate spending on elections and has a corrosive influence on the democratic process,” said Pingree.