Bernie Sanders, the ranking Democrat on the U.S. Senate’s Budget Committee, has presented a report detailing tax avoidance by highly profitable corporations. Sanders’s team used data derived from corporate filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and checked against a Government Accountability Office (GAO) list of countries that serve as havens for tax avoiders.
The report offers a look at the finances of large corporations that have lobbied extensively for laws more favorable to themselves. The Business Roundtable is a lobbying group that advocates lower corporate tax rates, as well as cuts in Social Security and Medicare. It turns out that the companies making up that organization already hold an extremely favorable position on taxes, thanks in part to their use of tax havens.
Of the 201 companies that belong to the Business Roundtable, 111 have subsidiaries located in countries that the GAO regards as tax havens. “These 111 companies collectively are officially holding more than $1 trillion in profits offshore,” the report states.
Of the full list of 201 companies, “at least 81 have been profitable each year for five years in a row but almost all of these pay far less than the full 35 percent corporate tax rate.” In fact, some of these companies paid no tax at all, “but instead received refunds from the IRS during these years [2008-2012].” Included in that especially privileged group are Boeing, General Electric, Verizon, and Duke Energy.
Duke Energy may be a familiar name. That was the company caught employing gun violence and other illegal intimidation against union workers in Barbara Kopple’s 1976 documentary Harlan County USA. In 2014, Duke was responsible for a huge coal-ash spill into the Dan River in North Carolina. Apparently, not enough of the company’s refund money from the taxpayer went into spill prevention
You can find other heartwarming tales of the patriotism and civic-mindedness of America’s corporate persons in Senator Sanders’s report, available in PDF format here.