Close Corporate Tax Loopholes

PERVASIVE TAX AVOIDANCE — Across the country, some of the nation’s most prosperous companies — including GE, Google and Goldman Sachs — have avoided paying the taxes they owe, costing taxpayers $150 billion last year.

LOOPHOLES COST CALIFORNIANS $21.6 BILLION LAST YEAR

No company should be able to game the tax system to avoid paying what it legitimately owes. And, yet, establishing shell companies in offshore havens for the purpose of tax avoidance is becoming more the rule than the exception for at least 83 of the nation's top 100 publicly traded companies. GE, Google, Goldman Sachs and dozens of others have created hundreds of phantom entities with nothing more than a clever tax attorney and P.O. box.

The most recent academic studies estimate that as a country we lose $150 billion a year in tax revenue due to offshore tax havens. That's money that is shouldered by average taxpayers, either through cuts to public services, additional taxes today or additional debt to be paid by the next generation.

It’s not illegal, but it’s not right.

The result? The average taxpayer paid $1,026 more this year to cover the billions that GE and others that use offshore tax havens skipped out on. And small businesses and companies that don’t use these schemes have to struggle to compete with those that do. 

Meanwhile, state legislatures and Congress are considering deep cuts for essential public programs — from education, to health care, to clean air and drinking water. They’re asking us to tighten our belts and make sacrifices, while giving the tax haven crew a free ride. We are pushing for common-sense changes that simply say that if corporations are based here and generate profits here, then they should, like all of us who earn income here, pay the taxes they owe.

Issue updates

Report | CALPIRG | Tax

Offshore Shell Games

This study reveals that tax haven use is ubiquitous among the largest 100 publicly traded companies as measured by revenue. 

82 of the top 100 publicly traded U.S. companies operate subsidiaries in tax haven jurisdictions, as of 2012. 

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News Release | CALPIRG | Tax

Enterprise Zone Reform Heads to the Governor’s Desk

Today the California State Assembly passed AB 93, a bill to transform California’s failed Enterprise Zone Program. The bill is now headed to the governor’s desk, where he is expected to sign it.

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News Release | CALPIRG Education Fund | Tax

Offshore Tax Dodging Blows a $7 Billion Hole in California Budget:

Sacramento, February 5th – With California “on the move” with its budget CALPIRG released a new study revealing that California lost $7.147 Billion due to offshore tax dodging in 2012. Many of America’s wealthiest individuals and largest corporations, including Wells Fargo in California, use tax loopholes to shift profits made in America to offshore tax havens, where they pay little to no taxes.

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Report | CALPIRG Education Fund | Tax

The Hidden Cost of Offshore Tax Havens

When U.S. corporations and wealthy individuals use offshore tax havens to avoid paying taxes to the federal government, it is an abuse of our tax system. Tax haven abusers benefit from our markets, infrastructure, educated workforce, and security, but they pay next to nothing for these benefits. Ultimately, taxpayers must pick up the tab, either in the form of higher taxes, cuts to public spending priorities, or increased national debt. 

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News Release | CALPIRG Education Fund | Budget, Democracy, Tax

California Cities Are Nation’s Best & Worst for Spending Transparency

New report reviews and grades the nation’s thirty largest cities on how effectively they allow the public to track budgets, contracting, subsidies, grants and requests for quality-of-life services.

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News Release | CALPIRG Education Fund | Tax

Offshore Tax Havens Cost Average California Taxpayers $423 a Year, Each California Small Business $2,010

With tax day approaching, a new study released by CALPIRG found that the average California taxpayer in 2011 would have to shoulder an extra $423 tax burden to make up for revenue lost from corporations and wealthy individuals shifting income to offshore tax havens. The report additionally found that to cover the cost of the corporate abuse of tax havens in 2011, small businesses in California would have to foot a bill of over $2,010 on average.

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Media Hit | Budget, Tax

Can't see much in the cloud

Good government is transparent government. Unless the people know what's going on with the numbers, “their” government isn't properly serving them.

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Media Hit | Tax

Gov. Jerry Brown faulted for taking down transparency website

Gov. Jerry Brown’s decision to take down a "transparency" website helped earn California a D-minus grade on public reporting of spending from a group advocating for open government.

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Media Hit | Budget, Tax

How state got D minus in government transparency

California, home of so much brilliance and innovation, should be ashamed that Texas and Kentucky lead the nation in using the tools of technology to make their government spending more transparent to their citizens. Even worse is that 35 other states scored higher than California in a recent analysis by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

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News Release | CALPIRG Education Fund | Budget, Tax

California Receives a “D minus” in Annual Report on Transparency of Government Spending

California received a “D minus” when it comes to government spending transparency, according to Following the Money 2012: How the States Rank on Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data, the third annual report of its kind by the California Public Interest Research Group Education Fund (CALPIRG Education Fund). 

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Report | CALPIRG | Budget, Food, Tax

Toward Common Ground

Our nation faces unprecedented fiscal challenges, as the commitments we’ve made now and into the future far outpace our fiscal capacity. Congress, the President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, and citizens across the country must grapple with very difficult decisions about how we can put our fiscal house in order. It will be critical to reach out across party lines and across ideological persuasions to achieve common-sense reforms that can bring us closer to balance.

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Report | CALPIRG Education Fund | Budget, Democracy, Financial Reform, Tax

Tax Increment Financing: The need for transparency and accountibility in local economic development subsidies

Tax-increment financing (TIF) has been a widely used tool for municipalities seeking private investment. TIF allows cities and towns to borrow against an area’s future tax revenues in order to invest in immediate projects or encourage present development. When used properly, TIF can promote enduring growth and stronger communities for blighted neighborhoods; but TIF can also end up wasting taxpayer resources or channeling money to politically favored special interests.

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Report | CALPIRG | Budget, Financial Reform, Tax

Toward Common Ground

To break through the ideological divide that has dominated Washington this past year and offer a pathway to address the nation’s fiscal problems, the National Taxpayer Union and U.S. PIRG joined together to identify mutually acceptable deficit reduction of over $1 Trillion.

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Report | CALPIRG | Budget, Tax

Tax Shell Game

The United States loses approximately $100 billion in tax revenues every year due to corporations and individuals sending their money to offshore tax havens.

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Report | CALPIRG | Budget, Democracy, Tax

Following the Money 2011:

This report is U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s second annual ranking of states’ progress toward “Transparency 2.0” – a new standard of comprehensive, one-stop, one-click budget accountability and accessibility. The past year has seen continued progress, with new states providing online access to government spending information and several states pioneering new tools to further expand citizens’ access to spending information and engagement with government. 

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PRIORITY ACTION

Some of the nation’s best-known companies — including GE, Google and Goldman Sachs — have avoided paying the taxes they owe, costing us $100 billion last year.

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