Sunday’s Paradise Papers leaks shouldn’t be just another scandal about big-name politicians and leaders — they should be a wake-up call. Our tax system is riddled with loopholes that let the biggest multinational corporations, including ones based here in Washington, play by a different set of rules.
WashPIRG has found that the U.S. loses approximately $147 billion in federal and state revenue each year due to corporations using tax havens to avoid U.S. taxes, forcing individuals and families to bear the burden through higher taxes, cuts to public programs, and ballooning national debt. These schemes are also a major risk to shareholders, leaving them vulnerable to enforcement actions as companies push the envelope with their “tax planning.”
Unless multinational corporations are required to give complete information, on a country-by-country basis, about where they are booking profits and paying taxes, they will continue to be able to use gimmicks and games to aim for a zero-percent tax rate.
Congress must take a close look at these leaks and make sure their tax plan closes loopholes — not makes them wider. Washington’s Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, and U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene, should demand a tax plan that discourages tax-haven abuse.
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Elise Orlick, director, Washington Public Interest Research Group (WashPIRG)