Tag Archives: Capitalism

Stiffing US Taxpayers on ‘Grand Scale,’ Fortune 500 Holding $2.6 Trillion Offshore

“As Congress considers proposals to institute a near zero percent tax rate on profits booked offshore by multinational corporations, the findings in this report should give policymakers pause.”

Written by Jake Johnson, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 10-17-2017.

“Congress created the loopholes in our tax code that allow offshore tax avoidance and force ordinary Americans to make up the difference,” the new study observes. (Photo: Michael Fleshman/Flickr/cc)

As President Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress intensify their push for massive corporate tax cuts that critics have said would encourage businesses to offshore profits and jobs, a new report published Tuesday by U.S. PIRG and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) found that 73 percent of companies on the Fortune 500 list are already taking advantage of overseas tax havens—costing the United States $752 billion in federal tax revenue last year alone.

The new study discovered that, in total, America’s most profitable corporations in 2016 had $2.6 trillion stashed overseas in over 9,000 subsidiaries in various locations, including notorious tax havens like Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.

Clark Gascoigne, deputy director of the Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency (FACT) Coalition, cautioned in a statement on Tuesday that the Trump-GOP tax proposals would, if passed, make this bad situation even worse.

“As Congress considers proposals to institute a near zero percent tax rate on profits booked offshore by multinational corporations, the findings in this report should give policymakers pause,” Gascoigne said. “The study shows that today’s flawed tax system allows for gaming on a grand scale.”

The PIRG-ITEP analysis makes clear that corporate tax avoidance is both an unnecessary problem—”Congress created the loopholes in our tax code that allow offshore tax avoidance and force ordinary Americans to make up the difference”—and a pervasive one.

At least 366 of the 500 companies on Fortune’s list “operate one or more subsidiaries in tax haven countries.” Furthermore, “30 companies with the most money officially booked offshore for tax purposes collectively operate 2,213 tax haven subsidiaries.”

But the report also highlights the fact that there are several “particularly egregious examples”:

  • Apple, which “holds at least $246 billion offshore, a sum greater than any other company’s offshore cash pile,” would owe $76.7 billion in U.S. taxes if this profit was not overseas;
  • Citigroup, which stashes $47 billion overseas, would owe $13.1 billion in U.S taxes; and
  • Nike, which holds $12.2 billion offshore, would owe $4.1 billion in U.S. taxes.

Richard Phillips, a senior policy analyst at ITEP, argued that in the face of these numbers, Congress should be looking to close loopholes that allow businesses to offshore profits on an enormous scale, not open them even further, as Trump and the GOP have proposed.

“Lawmakers shouldn’t be discussing how to sweeten the pot and give corporations a huge tax break that amounts to a huge financial reward for engaging in bad corporate behavior,” Phillips said.

The PIRG-ITEP analysis outlined several steps that could be undertaken by lawmakers in the place of their attempts to slash taxes, gut the safety net, and further incentivize offshoring.

“To end tax haven abuse, Congress should end incentives for companies to shift profits offshore, close the most egregious offshore loopholes, strengthen tax enforcement, and increase transparency,” the study concluded.

Share

World Animal Day Takes ‘Dark’ Turn as Interior Dept Denies Protections for 25 Species

While Trump administration declines to list several species, GOP-led House committee advances legislation to “cripple” Endangered Species Act

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-4-2017

The Pacific walrus is one of 25 species the Department of the Interior denied to list as endangered on Wednesday. (Photo: Joel Garlich Miller/U.S. FWS/Pixnio)

As Republicans in the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee advanced legislation that would “cripple” the Endangered Species Act (ESA) on Wednesday—which happened to be World Animal Day—the Trump administration’s Interior Department denied petitions to protect 25 species.

The department’s agency charged with evaluating such petitions, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), released a report (pdf) detailing why it denied each request, asserting that FWS staff had conducted “a thorough review of the best available scientific and commercial information.” Continue reading

Share

New Report Finally Exposes Congress’ Secret Weapon for Insider Trading

By James Holbrooks. Published 9-27-2017 by The Anti-Media

Photo: Kevin Hutchinson (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

It’s rare that we get a glimpse into how the machine actually operates, but POLITICO just gave us one. The findings of an investigation by the news agency, published Monday, reveal that congressional staffers may play a far larger role in greasing the engine of American government than one might assume. From the article by Maggie Severns:

“A POLITICO review of federal disclosures for 2015 and 2016 found that some senior aides regularly buy and sell individual stocks that present potential conflicts of interest with their work. A smaller number of staffers trade in companies that lobby Congress and the committees that employ them. In all, approximately 450 aides have bought or sold a stock of more than $1,001 in value since May 2015.

“That’s likely just the tip of the iceberg, since most congressional aides aren’t required to report their trades. Only those in positions earning more than $124,406 per year must reveal their investments. Of the 12,500 staffers working for lawmakers, committees and leadership offices, only about 1,700 make that much, according to data compiled by Legistorm and the Brookings Institution.” Continue reading

Share

Protests and Outrage as Gorsuch Headlines Event at Trump Hotel

Luncheon speech at president-owned luxury hotel decried as “inconsistent with judicial independence and integrity.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-28-2017

“Neil Gorsuch knows where his bread is buttered,” notes Ian Millhiser of ThinkProgress. (Photo: Cleanup Carl/Twitter)

Protestors gathered outside Trump International Hotel in Washington Thursday as Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch delivered the keynote speech at an event hosted by a right-wing advocacy group—a move critics argued crosses fundamental ethical boundaries, given that the venue is currently the subject of numerous emoluments lawsuits that could soon reach the Trump-appointed judge’s desk.

“By headlining this event, Gorsuch will personally enrich the very man who appointed him to his lofty position,” notes Ian Millhiser of ThinkProgress. “And he will enable the very mechanism that allows Trump to profit off the presidency.” Continue reading

Share

Trump Tax “Hoax” Would Blow $5 Trillion Hole In Budget Over Next Decade: Analysis

‘The idea that this plan would help average Americans instead of the wealthy and big corporations has been a hoax all along.’

Mick Mulvaney press conference about President Donald Trump’s budget plan. Screenshot: YouTube

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-26-2017

Trumpcare may be dead again (for a while at least) on Tuesday, but Republicans now want to get serious about what they call “tax reform,” but which critics are resolute in saying is just a major push to give the nation’s corporation and wealthiest individuals another massive giveaway they don’t need and certainly don’t deserve.

A day ahead of the Trump administration’s scheduled release of what it says will be a “detailed” tax plan, progressive policy groups are again warning the American people not to be fooled by rhetoric as they highlight estimates showing the likely proposal will cost the government trillions of dollars in revenue over the next decade and lead the way towards massive cuts in key social programs that help insulate low-income and working Americans from an economy already “rigged” in favor of the wealthy and powerful. Continue reading

Share

In First, Two Major Cities Sue Big Oil for Climate Crimes

San Francisco and Oakland charge that fossil fuel companies “stole a page from the Big Tobacco playbook” with misleading campaigns and should pay for damage from rising seas

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-21-2017

The Embarcadero at high tide. Photo: Heidi Nutters/flickr

Environmentalists are celebrating two new lawsuits filed by the cities of Oakland and San Francisco, California, in attempts to hold some of the world’s largest oil companies to account for fueling climate change.

“It’s time to hold these climate deadbeats accountable,” said Greenpeace’s climate liability campaigner Naomi Ages, after the suits were announced this week. Continue reading

Share

Instead of Protecting the Earth, EPA Agents Now Forced to Serve as Pruitt Bodyguards

Unsurprisingly, the number of environmental crime cases has declined rapidly since Pruitt took charge

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-20-2017

Pruitt’s 24/7, 18-member security detail “demands triple the manpower of his predecessors” and is forcing “officials to rotate in special agents from around the country who otherwise would be investigating environmental crimes,” the Washington Post reported. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr/cc)

Thanks to a hiring freeze, budget cuts, and the exorbitant travel needs of Trump’s cabinet, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agents are being forced to ditch climate crime investigations in order to serve as personal bodyguards for EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, resulting in what one critic called an “evaporation of criminal enforcement.”

The EPA head has traditionally had one of the smallest security details among cabinet members,” the Washington Post reported on Tuesday. But Pruitt’s expansive security team—which cost taxpayers over $830,000 in his first three months as EPA chief—has shattered all precedent. Continue reading

Share

Refusing to ‘Sit Down and Shut Up,’ Trumpcare Opponents Mobilize Against GOP

“We have millions of Americans on our side,” declares Sen. Elizabeth Warren as groups aim to thwart ACA repeal once more

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-19-2017

Progressive groups and senators rallied outside the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday to protest GOP attacks on the national healthcare system. (Photo: PFAW/@peoplefor/Twitter)

Progressive groups and lawmakers continued to mobilize on Tuesday in response to Republicans’ last-ditch attempt to cut off millions of Americans from healthcare by dismantling the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Following “red alerts” issued after weekend reports revealed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is considering a vote for a new bill crafted by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) that’s been called “Trumpcare by another name,” several groups planned a Tuesday afternoon rally at the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. Continue reading

Share

‘Spitting in the Eye of Transparency,’ Govt Reveals Just 22 Mar-a-Lago Visitors

Watchdog groups promise to keep fighting Trump administration in court after it refuses to release full list of presidential visitors to so-called Winter White House

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-15-2017

On Friday, the Trump administration released a list of visitors from President Donald Trump’s meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe at the president’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. (Photo: Shealah Craighead/TheWhite House)

“See you in court, Mr. President,” a watchdog group warned on Friday, after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), under pressure from a federal lawsuit, released just two pages of Mar-a-Lago visitor records, despite earlier promises to reveal the full list of visitors to President Donald Trump’s so-called Winter White House.

After waiting months for a response to our request for comprehensive visitor logs from the president’s multiple visits to Mar-a-Lago and having the government ask for a last minute extension, today we received 22 names from the Japanese prime minister’s visit to Mar-a-Lago, and nothing else,” said Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). Continue reading

Share

EU Watchdog Under Fire for Monsanto Analysis Copy/Pasted into Roundup Safety Report

Ahead of vote to determine whether farmers can continue using Monsanto’s popular pesticide, new Guardian report raises concerns that agency failed to fully analyze Roundup’s risks

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-15-2017

Later this year, the European Union will vote on whether to renew the license that allows European farmers to use Monsanto’s popular weed-killer, Roundup. (Photo: Mike Mozart/Flickr/cc)

Europe’s food safety agency reportedly relied on a review that lifted language from a Monsanto report when concluding that the possible cancer-causing ingredient in the company’s popular weed-killer Roundup is safe, raising concerns that the agency failed to properly analyze the pesticide’s potential dangers.

“If regulators rely on the industry’s evaluation of the science without doing their own assessment, the decision whether pesticides are deemed safe or not is effectively in the industry’s hands,” said Greenpeace’s European Union (EU) food policy director, Franziska Achterberg, who added that this discovery “calls into question the entire EU pesticide approval process. Continue reading

Share