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Corporate Tax Deserters

Economy Politics

Corporate Tax Deserters


Corporations love to wrap themselves in the flag with sun-drenched TV commercials that proclaim a deep devotion to American workers and communities. But when it comes to actually taking responsibility for supporting the workers and communities that create the conditions for corporate profits, a record number of big businesses are deserting America.

Burger King is the latest corporation to announce it is moving to Canada — at least on paper — where it will pay lower taxes. In the past three years alone, at least 21 companies have completed or announced mergers with foreign corporations to avoid taxes in an operation known as “inversion.” That compares with 75 over the past 30 years. These only-on-paper moves will gouge a $20 billion tax loophole over the next decade.

These companies may be moving their taxes overseas, but they’re not ending their reliance on the U.S. government to operate profitably. They are just shirking their responsibility to pay for what they get. The companies still make money in the United States, where they hire workers educated by public schools, ship their goods on public roads, are kept safe by local police officers and firefighters, and protect their patents in America’s courts.

Of course, small businesses and American families can’t play the same traitorous game. We can’t hire lawyers and accountants to pretend to ship our homes and our income overseas. And most of us wouldn’t do that if we could.

We understand that paying taxes is part of our basic obligation as citizens and essential to building strong communities.

What we do resent about taxes is that the current system is upside down — big corporations and the wealthy game the system so they pay a smaller share of their income in taxes than working families and small business. The share of profits corporations spend on taxes stands at a record low. And those profits are reaching record highs.

It’s time to turn the tax system right side up by closing the tax loopholes that allow billionaires and huge corporations to escape paying their fair share to support the country that made them rich.

The Obama administration just took a major step to do that. Tiring of Republican objections to closing the corporate tax deserter loophole, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced he was issuing new regulations aimed at making it much harder for companies to reap tax benefits from an offshore move.

This step may curb some corporate desertion. In the long run, it would be best if Congress took action. Two bills (S2360 and HR4679) would end the current practice of treating corporate deserters as foreign companies when they are still really based right here.

Consumers can play a role too. In August, Walgreens — which bills itself as “America’s drugstore” — abandoned its plan to dodge $4 billion in taxes in the next five years by changing its corporate address to Switzerland. Walgreens reversed course when outraged consumers protested at its stores and on the Internet.

This nation faces huge challenges in building an economy that works for all of us. If we plan to build a better future for our children, we must insist that corporations be held accountable for their responsibilities to our families and communities.

Richard Kirsch is a senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and the author of Fighting for Our Health: The Epic Battle to Make Health Care a Right in the United States. He’s also a senior advisor to USAction. 

Cross-posted from OtherWords.org

Photo: SEIU via Flickr



  1. Dominick Vila September 27, 2014

    Every corporation that operates, and makes a profit in the USA, must be forced to pay taxes on their profits, regardless of the purported location of their headquarters. Some of these leeches are using a mail box in places like the Cayman Islands, as their headquarters, to avoid paying Uncle Sam.
    This, by the way, is not a new phenomena. American shipping companies have been registering their ships in countries like Panama for many decades to avoid paying taxes and circumvent U.S. labor laws. Dick Cheney was planning to relocate the Halliburton headquarters to Qatar to avoid taxation, until he realized that there was a good chance he would be arrested and charged for crimes against humanity.
    If companies want to do business in the USA, and they profit from doing that, they must pay taxes. Period. If they have a problem with that, they should take their businesses, and their greedy butts, out of the USA and leave us alone. Can you imagine a world without fast food?

    1. kenndeb September 27, 2014

      We have a national debt of somewhere around 17 trillion dollars, and we expect that companies are going to pick up the slack from the millions that are out of work and on welfare. We no longer have a middle class that use to pay the majority of taxes. Our tax laws allow companies to move. It is legal. They are abiding by law. Now if only this regime would do the same, we might not have a 17 trillion dollar debt. Liberals like to howl about the 1% of wealthy Americans( mostly now liberals) that do not pay higher taxes, and want to redistribute the wealth, and say that they are not embracing communism. Right. Let’s take from those that make something from nothing, and punish those that do well in the financial world. Yeah, America; land of the free and home of the brave. That has sure changed under liberal control.

      1. Dominick Vila September 27, 2014

        I don’t know why I even bother to respond to your comments, but regarding the national debt W’s last budget (FY09) increased the national debt to $12B. The FY13 budget raised it to $16.7B.
        The reason for the increase has nothing to do with Democrats on welfare, or Democrats being the elite.
        The increase was caused by accounting changes that take into account the cost of wars (Afghanistan and Iraq), changes that adjust the Alternative Minimum Tax to inflation, that take into account the total cost of MEDICARE reimbursements, the extension of W’s tax cuts, the cost of the TARP and the stimulus package, and the loss of revenue caused by the Great Recession that began in late 2007.
        Would you have rather let the U.S. economy collapse? Would you have liked it better if we had hidden the cost of wars and other expenditures instead of showing what we actually owe?
        By the way, the Federal government deficits, which are a contributing factor to our national debt have been cut by almost 2/3 since President Obama’s inauguration in January 2009.

        1. jamcrky September 27, 2014

          Right on Dominick. Its nice when someone speaks who really knows what their taking about. And yes its all about GREED.

        2. rustacus21 September 27, 2014

          Thanx as well, as I got a bit emotional & enjoyed the way U got ‘technical’ by comparison & laid out the factors leading to the ‘conservative debt explosion,’ beginning in ’02, resulting in the ‘Depression’ of ’07. So many conservatives dismiss & simply refuse to discuss the world – BEFORE 2009 – & for good reason: their arguments, like the ’08 economy, simply collapse! Thanks for making it simple & plain yet again…

          1. Dominick Vila September 27, 2014

            The same is true for the way Republicans look at 9/11, the 11 terrorist attacks against U.s. diplomatic facilities, and the 4,400 U.S. troops killed in Iraq. As far as they are concerned, that was the work of the Devil or the boogeyman, what is important to them is Benghazi because 4 people were killed there, and because the initial assumption was that the attack was influenced by the provocative film that resulted in demonstrations throughout the Islamic world.
            Republicans take compartmentalization to a new level!

      2. rustacus21 September 27, 2014

        Did U think thru U’r comment before putting it down? Read it thru one more time. Then find that ‘COMMUNIST’ U.S. Constitution where it charges Congress – YES – THAT Congress – to ‘lay’ (that is, create a format where ALL citizens are OBLIGATED to pay them) TAXES. Then, go find a copy of that COMMIE Federalist Papers, where, in debating ratification, they made the case for WHY taxation by ALL citizens & BUSINESS, in order to have a healthy, vibrant & FREE society, lacking poor, miserable, isolated & forgotten people, who can then be EDUCATED & become productive, taxpaying, contributing members of society. By then, we have SO MANY TAXPAYERS, we’re able to ACTUALLY REDUCE EVERYONE’S TAX OBLIGATION!!! Everyone. Is that fair, just &/or logical enough for U? After paying all the bills, helping other nations become Democratized, bringing peace to other nations, we can rest & sit back, thinking of new ventures, like eliminating Global Climate Change or going to Mars in a few years, or even to Andromeda (our nearest galaxy, in case U didn’t know that)… That’s what just, equitable taxation allows in a highly advanced civil society to accomplish. Think about it a bit more & it may actually make sense to even conservatives like U…

        1. kenndeb September 27, 2014

          Killing jobs, and entire industries and destroying middle class is what this regime has done so far. Actually, a flat 10% tax across the board without exemptions would be best.

          1. DurdyDawg September 27, 2014

            Then advocate for that as it sounds good when spoken and stop degrading those who view taxation in it’s current policy as a combined effort from EVERYONE.. The taxes we pay do not go to the organizations that we as citizens would like, it goes to what ever our leaders deem it to go.. One of our greatest aspects has been charity.. We freely donate to countries we’ve never even visited, giving for the sake of helping those in need yet in our own country we scorn those who suffer, call them vile names such as ‘moochers’ and despise them for taking our hard earned taxes that would be used for other things that we would not benefit from as a people.. This nation used to have a heart, nothing lives forever I guess.

          2. Independent1 September 27, 2014

            As usual, the lies just keep rolling out of your lying mouth:

            “As this unemployment chart shows, President Obama’s job creation kept unemployment from peaking at as high a level as President Reagan, and promoted people into the workforce faster than President Reagan.

            “President Obama has achieved a 6.1% unemployment rate in his sixth year, fully one year faster than President Reagan did. At this point in his presidency, President Reagan was still struggling with 7.1% unemployment, and he did not reach into the mid-low 6% range for another full year. So, despite today’s number, the Obama administration has still done considerably better at job creating and reducing unemployment than did the Reagan administration.

            “We forecast unemployment will fall to around 5.4% by summer, 2015. A rate President Reagan was unable to achieve during his two terms.”


          3. kenndeb September 28, 2014

            You love your propaganda, don’t you? The 6.1% you tout is the number of people drawing benefits. It does not include those that are no longer looking for work. That number is over 12% unemployment. Again, try reading something other than regime propaganda.

          4. Independent1 September 27, 2014

            Any half brain (which includes you) should know that a flat tax simply foists the majority of a government’s tax burden UNFAIRLY on that government’s low income taxpayers.

            It doesn’t take a mental midget to realize that if you suck $2,000 in income taxes from somebody who makes $20,000 a year that paying that level of taxes is going to have a much more devastating affect on their ability to live a decent life (leaving them with $18,000 to live on which is below poverty level wages) than if a family making $200,000 a year can get away with paying just $20,000 in taxes leaving them with $180,000 a year to live on which is almost 4 times the average American’s income. You suggesting a flat tax is just one more example of your ignorance.

      3. Independent1 September 27, 2014

        All you know how to do is LIE!!!

      4. Independent1 September 27, 2014

        And the lies just keep rolling out of you don’t they!!!

        1. Independent1 September 27, 2014

          This graph should have appeared with my previous comment.

    2. DurdyDawg September 27, 2014

      Yes sir they certainly do and one of the worst tax evaders are still blatantly operating in this country.. Since 1966 The NFL hasn’t paid a penny in federal taxes.. We need to revoke the NFL’s tax-exempt status and this is just the tip of the ice berg yet we still have fools who would defend Satan if Obama and the Libs declared war on evil.


      1. Dominick Vila September 27, 2014

        The same is true for Churches and political organizations. The only ones that should enjoy tax exempt status is bonafide altruistic institutions devoted exclusively to helping people in need, and those trying to eradicate disease or hunger.

        The rest should all pay taxes, the same way we do.

        1. Independent1 September 27, 2014

          Absolutely! And it should be especially true of any churches that can be found in trying to influence who their congregations vote for in any governmental election – which a large percentage of them do.

  2. Whatmeworry September 27, 2014

    Why the patriotic theme?? You have a president who’s tax rate is 17% if he was patriotic then he would gladly pay his taxes at the 35% rate that his income would dictate.
    As soon as libs like Clinton, Barak, Holder, Media matters and Nation memo start paying their fair share then they can complain

    1. rustacus21 September 27, 2014

      As U seem to have read the Federalist Papers, U’r in fact knowledgeable about the debate throughout the process of ratification, that while seemingly a burden, taxation was a ‘necessary evil’ that we all would share in. In order to build an optimum civilization that would be the pride of humanity (which was the aspiration behind our secular governance initiative), it was likewise agreed that only just, equitable & comprehensive taxation was not only appropriate, but obligatory in proportion to our individual ability TO PAY – not ESCAPE PAYING. Read U’r Constitution so U can understand what an abomination Republican conservatives have degenerated this citizen responsibility, in relation to the several ‘Federalist’ essays & then U may, just maybe, come back w/a more mature, reasoned understanding, than the ‘if they don’t, I won’t’… which isn’t what our Liberal/Progressive Constitution & Democracy is about at all… Just read it & please, do so w/an open mind willing to absorb…

      1. Whatmeworry September 27, 2014

        and what pray tell did I miss? Barak, Bite me and Clinton can all afford to pay more “if they were patriotic” according to their definition of patriotism.
        They also didn’t believe that you should be able to VOTE if you don’t pay taxes. They knew that allowing that to happen that those who don’t contribute would soon demand the wealth of others

        1. RobertCHastings September 28, 2014

          So can the Koch and Walton families, but they don’t, so I must assume that, in your universe, they are NOT patriotic.

          1. Whatmeworry September 28, 2014

            Ahhhh but they never made that claim it was your Messiah that made the claim

    2. Independent1 September 27, 2014

      As usual, the only thing you know how to do is lie. The Obama’s in 2013 did not pay a 17% tax rate they paid a 20.4% rate on an income of $481,000. A 20.4% rate on $481,000 in income is a high tax rage given that 20.4% is the average rate that MULTI-MILLIONAIRES paid in 2013. And when you compare the Obama’s 20.4% rate to the 8.7% rate that the average American earning $50-100,000 paid – IT SOUNDS PRETTY FAIR TO ME!!! And it doesn’t even look unfair when you realize that the average American earning $30-50,000 paid an 4.8% rate in 2013.

      And the 20.4% rate looks especially good when you think of companies like GE and Apple and about 200 others which made millions and billions in profits who paid ZERO taxes; and some earning millions and billions actually got refunds.

      All this just proves that like always that your RANTS ARE NOTHING BUT PURE STUPIDITY TALKING AND LYING!!!!!!!!!!

      Today, the President released his 2013 federal income tax returns. He and the First Lady filed their income tax returns jointly and reported adjusted gross income of $481,098. The Obamas paid $98,169 in total tax.

      The President and First Lady also reported donating $59,251 – or about 12.3 percent of their adjusted gross income – to 32 different charities. The largest reported gift to charity was $8,751 to the Fisher House Foundation. The President’s effective federal income tax rate is 20.4 percent. The President pushed for and signed into law legislation that makes the system more fair and helps the middle class by extending tax cuts to middle class and working families and asks the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share. In 2013, as a result of his policies, the President was subject to limitations in tax preferences, as well as additional Medicare and investment income taxes, for high income earners. The President and First Lady also released their Illinois income tax return and reported paying $23,328 in state income tax.

      1. Whatmeworry September 28, 2014

        Sorry that you missed the point entirely. He s using the term Patriotic Duty to pay your fair share of taxes.
        His “fair” share is 35%. So until he mans up and pays his “share” he needs to STFU

        1. RobertCHastings September 28, 2014

          NOBODY in this country is taxed at the 35% rate, moron, thanks to Bush. The FIRST tax reduction after WWII was by Kennedy, who reduced the top rate from over 90% to 70% (Neither Eisenhower NOR Nixon reduced taxes on the wealthy)

          1. Whatmeworry September 28, 2014

            Hmmm so you never looked at the IRS tax Tables I see…..
            If Barak was serious about the patriotic duties then he would pay the top rate seeing as how many of his “books” were bought with taxpayer $$$$.
            Typical Lib you and Barak don’t have any problem telling others to pay their taxes but not when you have to use your $$$$$

          2. RobertCHastings October 5, 2014

            So, Romney is patriotic? At least Buffett admits that his tax rate is lower than that of his secretary. I pay what the tax laws require me to pay, because I do NOT make enough to avail myself of the huge benefits of wealth, such as deductions and subsidies, and off-shore bank accounts.

          3. Whatmeworry October 5, 2014

            absolutely..he’s not making any case about tax rates or what people should pay. That’s Barak who is accusing the of being unpatriotic. All the while only paying 18%

        2. Whatmeworry is Dan M Ketter September 29, 2014

          hmm. really.

    3. Paul Bass September 29, 2014

      You are cherry picking the data. And apparently can’t figure out the “progressive” tax system we’ve had in place for about 100 years. From the current tax tables:

      Married Individuals Filing Joint Returns and Surviving SpousesTaxable IncomeRate

      Differential from

      previous upper threshold

      Lower Threshold Upper Threshold rate Diff. from prev. up.
      $0 $17,400 10%
      $17,400 $70,700 15% $53,300
      $70,700 $142,700 25% $72,000
      $142,700 $217,450 28% $74,750
      $217,450 $388,350 33% $170,900
      $388,350 infinity 35% infinity

      So likely President Obama DID pay the 35% tax rate on his ~ $97,000 ABOVE the $388K threshold of EARNED income.
      Unlike Romneys only ~14% on his UNEARNED income of about $40 MILLION.

      1. Whatmeworry September 29, 2014

        hmmm the tax return which you can access shows no such thing. Romney on the other hand contributes more than 54% of his income to charity every year. Something that revolts Libs since he’s donating his own $$ rather than the govt wasting it

        1. Independent1 September 30, 2014

          And the lies just keep a rolling!! Mitt Romeny only donates whatever his accountants tell him will help keep his tax bite as low as possible.

          Only a total moron such as yourself doesn’t know why Romney refused to divulge his previous tax returns – it’s because before 2010, he had never paid an even 10% return – he had to fabricate the 2010 and 2011 returns to make them respectable (over 10%).

          When a guy can cheat enough on his returns to be able to create a 401K over 15 years with over 100 million dollars in it when the deposit limit is $30,000/yr – you know he’s doing everything he can to cheat on his taxes. (There’s no legal way to turn $450,000 deposited into a 401k over 15 years even at the max rate of $30,000/yr into over 100 million without a massive amount of cheating!!!!!)

          1. Whatmeworry September 30, 2014

            Hmmmm and you know that how??
            Ohhhh yea you got those numbers from Harry Reid who was told that by Lois Lerner.
            You do realize that anyone can contribute Millions to a 401K on an after tax basis. If you paid taxes rather than being on welfare you would know that

          2. Independent1 September 30, 2014

            And more lies!! YOU CANNOT CONTRIBUTE MILLIONS!! Like I said YOU ARE A PATHOLOGICAL LIAR!!!!!!!

            Contributions – A 401(k) can accept six types of contributions:

            Employer profit-sharing contributions

            Employee pretax contributions up to $17,500 (2013)

            Catch-up for those age 50 and older (an additional $5,500 (2013) contribution can be made)

            Matching contributions by the employer

            After-tax Roth contributions

            After-tax employee contributions

            Roth Contributions – If your employer offers a 401(k) plan, you may be able to take advantage of the Roth 401(k) option.

            The Roth option in a 401(k) allows you to designate part or all of your401(k) contribution as Roth after-tax dollars. If certain requirements are met, the Roth distributions from your 401(k) may be tax-free.

            For example, the most you can contribute to a 401(k) in 2013 is 100% of your pay, up to $17,500, or $23,000 if you are age 50 or older before year-end (your company’s plan may have more restrictive limitations). You can designate part or all of your 401(k) contribution as a Roth, or as traditional pre-tax contribution.

            The total of these six contributions per individual cannot exceed 100 percent of the individual’s annual compensation* or $51,000 (2013), whichever is less, plus the catch-up contribution. Total employer contributions (other than salary deferral contributions) cannot exceed 25 percent of all eligible employees’ compensation.

          3. dpaano November 14, 2014

            Ah, NO you can’t contribute millions to your 401K plan yearly….you need to check your facts before you start spouting off such BS!!!

        2. Paul Bass September 30, 2014

          Again, lies.


          This article shows just how UNGENEROUS Romney has been. A couple of quotes:

          According to tax documents viewed by Business Insider, the vast majority of the money Mitt Romney gave away in 2009 and 2010—80 percent of it—went to the church.”

          In 2009, therefore, 95 percent of the money Romney’s foundation gave away went to the church.

          1. Whatmeworry September 30, 2014

            The NATION!! are you serious??? He gave $$$$$ to his Church annnnd??? I guess your trying to make a point but it falls hopelessly short

          2. Independent1 September 30, 2014

            More pure BS – Mitt Romney never did any such thing!!!!!! He contributed to the church exactly what the Church demanded. And his charitable contributions were based on what level of donating gave him the best tax advantage.

          3. Independent1 September 30, 2014

            And you know why it went to the church?? Because the church DEMANDS IT. It’s not an option!!!

  3. rustacus21 September 27, 2014

    It’s so encouraging to see that I’m not the only one that thinks taxes, while a big demand on our individual finances, are essential to civil society. All that we take for granted, our taxes make sure are provided. For those w/the lawyers in their breast pockets & politicians in their back pockets, escaping tax-paying seems a given & naturally fine. For the rest of us, we carry our own tax burden & the EXTRA HEAVY burden of those able to CHEAT their way to the exclusive exception of not paying. But imagine us having a no taxation policy OR an uninforcible tax policy – like, say Sierra Leone, where they have no CDC to deal w/an Ebola outbreak. Think about that while DEFENDING an exception U don’t & never WILL qualify for, in defending TAX CHEATERS who put the extra burden of additional taxes on U, conservative Republican T-bagger TAXPAYER!!!

  4. DurdyDawg September 27, 2014

    Take note con-servatives.. These are the 1%ers us libs have been nagging about.. Now that it’s becoming media obvious we can giddily say that we’ve been right and you have been wrong.. So, for a change, how ’bout stop defending a bunch of tax evading moochers who would just as soon toss YOU under the bus as anyone else. Get on the band wagon and help us MAKE these idiots pay their taxable fair share.

    1. Paul Bass September 29, 2014

      LOVE the longhorn bolo tie! Of course most Texas politicians would have that longhorn in burnt orange.

  5. charles king September 27, 2014

    Critical Thinking and your Democracy has been put aside while the Greedy Capitalistic Pig, Plutocracts take over your States Govts. MONIES has created THE GREAT DIVIDE . Have no Fear because the VOTE is still Supreme so come Nov Lets us all VOTE DEMOCRACTIC and -C- if that will put the Country back on the track to our Democracy. Thank You are the magic words in my book. I Love Ya All MR. C.E KING

  6. ps0rjl September 27, 2014

    If a corporation wants to invert, I say go ahead. However you will now be treated as a foreign corporation that is liable for tariffs and other legal restrictions. Also since they are foreign corporations then they should be barred from bidding on any federal contracts including defense. That is taxpayers’ money and as such should only be used by US companies. Also they should as foreign companies be barred from making any campaign contributions of any kind including those that are issue oriented. No foreign corporation should have any input to our governmental processes. Of course getting congress to agree to that not to mention our illustrious Supreme Court is probably pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking.

  7. Wedge Shot September 28, 2014

    I used to go to Burger King every now and then but will not set foot in their stores after they decided to “evade” taxes.

  8. RobertCHastings September 28, 2014

    Let them move their corporate headquarters offshore. BUT. tax all monies made in the US BEFORE they leave here, at the site of the sale.

  9. dpaano November 14, 2014

    It’s amazing that the Republicans won’t raise the Corporation tax rate……the corporations don’t pay taxes anyway!!! Totally ridiculous, and it should be changed! Companies like Boeing, GE, etc., shouldn’t get away with paying NO taxes just because they can afford to hire high-priced CPA’s to get them out of paying. The rest of us can’t afford to do that….so we end up paying for them!


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