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President Obama Poses Question: “Why Protect Special Interest Tax Breaks?”

For Immediate Release

Statement of U.S. PIRG Tax and Budget Advocate Dan Smith on President Obama’s State of the Union speech:

“Tonight, President Obama rightly called on Congress to close tax loopholes that allow wealthy special interests to shirk their tax burden at the expense of the public. The first loopholes to go should be those that allow corporations and wealthy individuals to use accounting gimmicks to stash their income in offshore tax havens.

“The winners in our loophole-ridden tax code are the big banks and pharmaceutical and high tech companies, including some of the nation's most prominent corporations like GE and Wells Fargo. The losers are small business owners and ordinary taxpayers who don’t have armies of tax lawyers to make the income they earn in America appear on the books of shell companies in the Cayman Islands.

“The President hit on the major choice Congress will face in the coming weeks: allow indiscriminate cuts that will lump wasteful handouts to big agribusiness together with valuable funding for higher education, or close the tax haven loopholes that let big corporations and wealthy individuals dodge an estimated $150 billion a year in taxes.

“Passing legislation just introduced by Senators Levin and Whitehouse would translate the President’s words into action. The Cut Unjustified Tax Loopholes Act (S. 268) would close the most egregious offshore tax loopholes and end the special tax break for money managers. It has been scored as raising nearly $200 billion over the next decade – more than twice what’s needed to avert the automatic spending cuts set to take effect in two weeks.

“Congress should pass this legislation immediately to level the playing field for small businesses, restore fairness to our tax system, and raise revenue to fund public priorities or cut the debt.”

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Read U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s new study revealing the impact of offshore tax havens on state budgets.

Read U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s study revealing the impact of offshore tax havens on everyday taxpayers and small businesses.

Read U.S. PIRG/CTJ’s study identifying the “Dirty Thirty” companies that paid more to lobby Congress than they did in taxes.

U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups, is a consumer group that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society. www.uspirg.org

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