A group of Democratic lawmakers in Congress are urging the Treasury Department to crack down on corporations that use tax inversions to merge with foreign companies to lower their tax rates and publish a shame list of them.
Senators Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Jack Reed, D-R.I., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Representatives Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., Sander Levin, D-Mich., and Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, wrote a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Friday. They pointed to a trio of corporate inversions in just the past month, asking him to publish an annual list of inverted companies and use executive authority to crack down on these tax avoidance schemes. Inversions occur when U.S. companies move their headquarters overseas, but only on paper, to avoid paying their fair share of U.S. taxes, the lawmakers noted.
Teres, CF Industries Holdings Inc. and Coca Cola Enterprises Inc. are the latest companies to invert, joining a list that includes medical device maker Medtronic and some 40 others over the past 10 years. Congress’s nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation estimated in July that corporate inversions will cost U.S. taxpayers $41 billion over the next decade if not addressed.
“Like many other companies seeking to invert, Terex, CF Industries Holdings and Coca Cola Enterprises took advantage of our education system, our research and development incentives, our skilled workforce, our infrastructure, our patent and court systems, and our national security, all supported by U.S. taxpayers, to start and build their businesses,” the lawmakers wrote. “Now they seek to renounce their citizenship to skirt paying taxes for the very services they benefit from.
“Although Congress and the Department of Treasury took steps in the past to curb corporation inversions, these tax dodgers have continued to exploit loopholes in our laws and regulations,” they added. “For example, Congress prohibited the Department of Homeland Security from awarding contracts to inverted corporations in the 2002 DHS authorization…Unfortunately, Ingersoll Rand, an inverted corporation with roots in the United States that dates back to 1871, was recently cleared by the DHS to compete for federal contacts…This mixed track record for enforcing the contracting prohibition on inverted corporations is partly due to the fact that it is difficult for procurement personnel to determine whether a company is inverted. Your Department is uniquely qualified to make such a determination. Consequently, we urge you to publish annually a list of inverted corporations that could be used to better enforce the ban, and if the Department of Treasury is unable to do this under current law, please advise us what statutory changes are needed to permit such a disclosure.”
All of the members of Congress who signed the letter are co-sponsors of legislation that would ban federal contracts for companies that move their headquarters overseas to avoid paying their fair share of U.S. taxes. More information on the bill can be found here.
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