US Senate Must Remove Corporate Loophole from Appropriations Bill

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Nicole Tichon
office: (202) 546-9707 ext. 369
ntichon@pirg.org

US Senate Must Remove Corporate Loophole from Appropriations Bill

WASHINGTON - If action is not taken immediately, a big corporate loophole will be slipped
into the rules governing how and to whom U.S.
government agencies contract out their work, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG)
discovered this week.

Each year, Congress must renew its commitment to prohibiting government agencies from awarding contracts to inverted corporations. (Inverted corporations are those that were once U.S.-based, that reincorporate in another country, but conduct very little substantial business in their new foreign base. For more information see U.S. PIRG’s Tax Shell Game.) This restriction began as part of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 and has been renewed by subsequent appropriations bills.  

But this year, a loophole has been slipped into the language of the
2010 Senate’s
Appropriations bill for Financial Services and General Government
that
would severely limit
the scope
of this law.

In Section 740 (d) of the 2010 bill, a sweeping
exception is made to the current law, opening the door wide to inverted or
“shell” corporations ­who do business in the U.S. but don’t
pay U.S. taxes, costing taxpayers billions of dollars a year.

In reference to
prohibitions against granting public contracts to inverted companies, the bill
reads: “The prohibition… shall not apply to the extent that it is
inconsistent with the United
States obligations under an international
agreement.” 

 “This bill undermines a bipartisan, commonsense law, undoing the good that’s been done,” explained Nicole Tichon, Tax and Budget Reform Advocate for U.S. PIRG. “The taxpayers, who’ve been carrying the financial rescue on their backs, will take on even more burden if this loophole becomes law.” 

On Tuesday, Tichon and U.S. PIRG took immediate action, sending a letter to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government leadership outlining its key concerns, which include the potential for any inverted company in a country with which the U.S. has any kind of “international agreement” to be exempt from the restriction on contracting with the U.S. government. 

“Though
‘agreement’ is a nebulous term, it is presumed to mean the World
Trade Organization’s Government Procurement Agreement, but could be
interpreted as wide as Trade Agreements, Trade and Investment Agreements or
even Tax Treaties,” Tichon’s letter reads.

“The original law
does not provide for any preferential treatment of any particular country. The
original law in no way impacts true foreign companies. Instead, it keeps
contracts and tax dollars out of the hands of companies that have renounced
their U.S.
citizenship to avoid paying their fair share of taxes,” the letter
continues. (Download
the letter for full details
.)

Tichon added, “The existing law provides for one of the few checks taxpayers have against blatant corporate greed and one of the few checks businesses that pay taxes have to help level the playing field.”
The bill has not yet been taken up on the floor of the U.S. Senate, but will be considered in the coming weeks. 
###

U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs), stands up to powerful special interests on behalf of the American public, working to win concrete results for our health and our well-being. With a strong network of researchers, advocates, organizers and students in state capitols across the country, we take on the special interests on issues, such as product safety,political corruption, prescription drugs and voting rights,where these interests stand in the way of reform and progress.

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