No Tax Write-Offs For Wrongdoing

END WRITE OFFS FOR WRONGDOING

Paying for misdeeds shouldn’t be a tax write off. Unlike regular citizens and small businesses, large corporations accused of wrongdoing like oil spills and mortgage scams typically negotiate out-of-court settlements to resolve charges from government regulators. The company agrees to make a payment and the government agency agrees not to prosecute the alleged misdeed. Annually, billions of dollars are exchanged between corporations accused of crimes and government agencies attempting to hold them accountable.

These settlements shouldn’t just be another cost of doing business.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what these payments often end up being. 

Unless agencies specify otherwise, these corporations usually deduct the costs of out-of-court settlements on their taxes as ordinary business expenses, leaving taxpayers to pick up the tab. 

Especially when Congress is struggling to reduce budget shortfalls, every dollar that corporate wrongdoers avoid paying by deducting a settlement must be made up for through higher tax rates for others, cuts to public programs, or an increase in the national debt.

The public often can’t even know when these settlement agreements come with a tax deduction because there are no standards for transparency. Government agencies aren’t required to publish the settlement agreements or publicly post the details, and corporations don’t disclose whether or not they deduct the payments from their taxes.

That’s how Bank of America, accused of consumer fraud that contributed to the financial crisis, can write off up to $11 billion of their recent settlement agreement and leave taxpayers to pick up the tab, with no one the wiser.

THERE IS A SOLUTION

We’re calling on Congress to pass bipartisan common-sense legislation to restrict write offs for wrongdoing. We are also supporting a bipartisan bill to make settlement agreements between government agencies and corporations more transparent, so that Americans can know the real value of the deals being signed on their behalf. In the meantime, we’re pushing agencies to update their settlement policies and deny tax deductions for corporate misbehavior. 

Issue updates

News Release | U.S. PIRG | Tax

U.S. PIRG COMMENDS THE BIPARTISAN TRUTH IN SETTLEMENTS ACT AS A WIN FOR AMERICAN TAXPAYERS

Today, Representatives Bill Posey (R-FL) and Matt Cartwright (D-PA) reintroduced the Truth in Settlements Act.  This bill, which has already been reintroduced in the Senate by Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), would increase transparency around settlements reached between federal agencies and corporations accused of wrongdoing.  

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Tax

Good News for Government Transparency

In a major victory for government transparency, states and local governments will be required to disclose the amount of revenue lost through programs that grant special tax breaks and abatements for economic development. 

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Tax

U.S. Senator Demands BP and Justice Dept Disclose Spill Settlement, Disallow Spill Tax Write Off

A U.S. Senator has told the Department of Justice to disclose its out-of-court settlement with BP that released the oil giant from charges for the Gulf oil spill and to make sure the settlement isn't allowed to be used as a tax write off.

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Media Hit | Tax

TV News Investigation About BP Settlement Based on USPIRG Report

WAFF TV News in Alabama investigated and confirmed U.S. PIRG findings that BP is poised to shift much of the cost of its $18.7 billion out-of-court settlement for the Gulf oil spill back onto consumers. The segment's statement from U.S. Senator Shelby unfortunately does not address the problem.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Budget, Tax

Offshore Tax Havens Cost Small Businesses $3,244 a Year

As tax day approaches, it’s important to remember that small businesses end up picking up the tab for offshore tax loopholes used by many large multinational corporations. U.S. PIRG joined Senator Bernie Sanders, Bryan McGannon of the American Sustainable Business Council, and Bob McIntyre of Citizens for Tax Justice today to release a new study by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund revealing that the average small business owner in 2014 would have to pay an extra $3,244 in taxes to make up for the money lost in 2014 due to offshore tax haven abuse by large multinational corporations. 

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Budget, Tax

Concrete, Fair Reforms Submitted to Senate Finance Committee Working Groups

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group today submitted comments to the Senate Finance Committee’s Business Income Tax and International Tax Working Groups, urging lawmakers to close corporate tax loopholes that allow multinational corporations to avoid U.S. tax. 

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News Release | U.S. Public Interest Research Group | Tax

34 Thousand Tell Justice Dept: Deny BP Tax Write Off for Gulf Oil Spill

Today, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group delivered over 34,000 petitions to the Department of Justice calling on the agency to deny British Petroleum (BP) tax deductions for its remaining payments to address the 2010 Gulf Coast oil spill. A forthcoming decision to address BP’s liability under the Clean Water Act could earn the company a $4.9 billion tax windfall if the Justice Department signs an out-of-court settlement and fails to specify that the payments are non-deductible.

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News Release | US PIRG | Tax

Achtung Baby! German Bank Settlement Could Include $490 Million Loophole

As the German-based Commerzbank approaches a settlement agreement to resolve allegations surrounding the bank’s role in illegal money laundering with sanctioned states, the Justice Department will need to forbid tax deductions for this corporate wrongdoing or the bank will likely deduct the payments as an ordinary cost of doing business. In that case, ordinary taxpayers would ultimately shoulder up to $490 million of the deal.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Tax

U.S. PIRG PRAISES BIPARTISAN BILL REINTRODUCTION PROHIBITING TAX WRITE-OFFS FOR WRONGDOING

Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Jack Reed (D-RI) reintroduced The Government Settlement Transparency and Reform Act, which would restrict the ability for corporations to reap massive tax write-offs from payments made to settle allegations of misconduct or criminal wrongdoing.  

> Keep Reading

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