The Detroit News: Levin -- Tax fairness demands GOP action

Sep 12, 2014

Imagine if you started using a friend’s address in Canada to avoid paying U.S. taxes. You kept your house in Warren, sent your kids to Jefferson Elementary, used the Warren Public Library and relied on the police to keep you safe. But instead of paying taxes here like your neighbors you sent a lesser amount to Canada.

Sounds crazy, right? Well that is what our current federal tax code allows U.S. corporations to do. And despite an increasing number of corporations seizing the opportunity, Republicans in the House have so far refused to act. Their excuse: We should wait for comprehensive tax reform.

This problem cannot wait for comprehensive tax reform, which House Republican Speaker John Boehner has shown little interest in pursuing. More than a dozen large corporations this year alone have unveiled their intentions to move their tax address overseas. Barely a week passes without a new company announcing plans to invert.

The tax burden that this small but growing number of big corporations is avoiding is borne by the rest of American taxpayers. Indeed, without action to address the issue, nonpartisan Congressional scorekeepers estimate that $20 billion in tax revenue will be lost over the next decade.

American taxpayers are pressing for action. More than three-quarters say they disapprove of inversions, according to a July poll from the Morning Consult, with the majority supporting immediate action to rein in the abuse.

Corporate CEOs are also speaking out.

“We are concerned that these tax inversions left unchecked will further erode the corporate tax base and make comprehensive reform that much more challenging,” CVS CEO Larry Merlo told CNBC this month.

There are a number of possibilities worth pursuing, starting with legislation that I and other House Democrats introduced in May to strengthen existing rules — rules passed in 2004 under the Bush Administration and a Republican House majority — and prohibit corporations from moving their tax address overseas by buying a smaller foreign company. Senate Democrats have made similar proposals, including a plan to close a loophole that allows companies to strip profits out of the United States in order to avoid paying U.S. taxes.

Still, Republicans continue to drag their feet. Speaker Boehner even argued last year that the House GOP should “not be judged on how many new laws we create.”

Tell that to American taxpayers who can’t move their tax address overseas and are bearing the burden left by big corporations that can — and are increasingly choosing to do so.

From The Detroit News:

113th Congress