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Bernie Sanders' corporate tax plan closes loopholes and raises substantial revenue for rebuilding America's crumbling infrastructure. (Photo: Brookings Institute/flickr/cc)

Bernie Sanders Vows to Crack Down on Greedy Corporate Tax Dodgers

'In America today we are losing $100 billion in revenue every single year because large corporations are stashing their profits in the Cayman Islands and other offshore tax havens.'

Deirdre Fulton

Singling out what he dubs the "top 10 corporate tax dodgers," Bernie Sanders on Friday pledged to close loopholes that let huge corporations avoid paying their fair share in taxes.

The list (pdf) includes General Electric, Boeing, Bank of America, Citigroup, and Merck, and notes that several of the companies' CEOs, even as they sit on massive retirement savings, want to raise the eligibility age for—and make significant cuts to—social safety net programs like Medicare and Social Security.

"In America today we are losing $100 billion in revenue every single year because large corporations are stashing their profits in the Cayman Islands and other offshore tax havens," Sanders said during a swing through eastern Iowa three days before the state holds its first-in-the-nation caucuses.

For example, according to the Sanders campaign:

From 2008 to 2013, while GE made over $33.9 billion in United States profits, it received a total tax refund of more than $2.9 billion from the Internal Revenue Service.

G.E.’s effective U.S. corporate income tax rate over this six-year period was -9 percent.

In 2012, GE stashed $108 billion in offshore tax havens to avoid paying income taxes. If this practice were outlawed, GE would have paid $37.8 billion in federal income taxes that year.

In crafting his list of tax dodgers, Sanders cites a 2015 Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ) report that revealed how Fortune 500 corporations across a range of sectors in the U.S. economy were "manipulating the tax system to avoid paying even a dime in tax on billions of dollars in U.S. profits."

As Common Dreams reported at the time, the CTJ analysis showed that many businesses are exploiting tax breaks that "are, by and large, perfectly legal, and often have been on the books for decades."

The senator from Vermont's plan to reform the tax system calls for eliminating those tax breaks and closing those loopholes—and use the resulting revenue to "create and maintain at least 13 million good-paying jobs by rebuilding our crumbling roads, bridges, water systems, railways, airports and more."

According to a press statement, Sanders' plan would:

  • End a rule allowing American corporations to defer paying federal income taxes on profits of offshore subsidiaries. Under current law, U.S. corporations are allowed to defer or delay U.S. income taxes on overseas profits until the money is brought back into the United States.
  • Prevent corporations from avoiding U.S. taxes by claiming to be a foreign company through the establishment of a post office box in a tax-haven country.
  • Eliminate tax breaks for big oil, gas, and coal companies.
  • Stop American companies from avoiding U.S. taxes through corporate inversions.
  • Close loopholes that allow U.S. corporations to artificially inflate or accelerate foreign tax credits.

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