‘Loopholes for Sale: Campaign Contributions by corporate tax dodgers’

• Thirty companies contribute $41 million to 524 members of congress, receive $10.6 billion in tax rebates

Staff Report

A new report released Wednesday, March 21, by Illinois PIRG and Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ) found 30 unusually aggressive tax-dodging corporations have made campaign contributions to 524 (98 percent) sitting members of Congress, and disproportionately to the leadership of both parties and to key committee members.

The report, “Loopholes for Sale: Campaign Contributions by Corporate Tax Dodgers,” examines campaign contributions made by a total of 280 profitable Fortune 500 companies in 2006, 2008, 2010 and to date in 2012, and will be available at www.ctj.org/loopholesforsale.

Loopholes for Sale focuses on campaign contributions by 30 companies — dubbed the “Dirty Thirty” — that a previous Illinois PIRG/CTJ study found collectively paid no federal corporate income taxes between 2008 and 2010 while receiving $10.6 billion in tax rebates and spending millions to lobby Congress. Altogether, these companies spent $41 million on campaign contributions during the four most recent election cycles, with each member of Congress receiving $58,000 on average (top recipients and donors listed below).

These aggressive tax dodgers left nothing to chance by making campaign contributions to all but 10 current members of Congress,” said Illinois PIRG Director Brian Imus. “The pervasiveness of that money across party lines speaks volumes about why major proposals to close corporate tax loopholes have not even come up for a vote.”

PAC contributions from these 30 corporations were most concentrated among leadership in both parties and the committees that control tax policy in both chambers of Congress. An average of $84,859 went to current members of the House Ways and Means Committee, which is 66 percent more than the average House member not on that committee. All but one Senate Finance Committee member, Maria Cantwell of Washington state, received an average of $83,209, which is 28 percent more than the average senator not on that committee.

It seems the only thing the two parties can agree on is that we shouldn’t even try to get more tax revenue from profitable corporations,” said Steve Wamhoff, legislative director at Citizens for Tax Justice. “Corporations’ public filings with the SEC show that even big, profitable corporations pay nowhere near the 35 percent statutory tax rate, and some pay nothing at all, thanks to the loopholes in the tax code. It’s outrageous that lawmakers seek to reduce budget deficits by cutting health care, education and other public investments all Americans depend on while doing nothing to end this corporate tax avoidance.”

The top five Congressional recipients of contributions since 2005 from the 30 no-tax companies were as follows:

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) — $379,850

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) — $336,5000

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) — $320,900

Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo. and former House Minority Whip 2003-08) — $220,500

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) – $177,001

The top five corporate contributors since 2005 are as follows:

Honeywell — $6,469,277

Boeing — $4,049,250

General Electric — $3,390,850

Verizon — $3,201,550

FedEx — $2,595,900

We need to achieve equality in our campaign finance system. Only then can we hope to successfully fix our government’s undue favor to powerful special interests, which is on full display in our tax code, and amplify the voices of ordinary citizens in the halls of Congress,” concluded Imus.

For more information, go to www.illinoispirg.org or www.ctj.org.

From the March 28-April 3, 2012, issue

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