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Mario K. Salazar,
U.S. PIRG

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

Bill Would Shed Light on the Costs of Government Settlement Agreements
For Immediate Release

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the bipartisan Truth in Settlements Act, sponsored by Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).  This legislation would increase transparency around settlements reached between federal agencies and corporations accused of wrongdoing.  When federal agencies enter into these agreements, they regularly tout the top-line dollar value of these settlements made to settle allegations of corporate misconduct.  However, the public value of these settlements often decreases when corporations are able to receive massive tax write-offs and credits from these payments.  Many times, these agreements are deemed confidential and details are hidden from the American public.  This legislation would require detailed and publicly accessible disclosures of these settlement agreements and the tax write-offs that accompany them.

“Taxpayers have a right to scrutinize deals made by federal regulatory agencies with corporations who commit wrong, especially since the public must foot a part of the bill due to tax credits and deductions,” said Mario Salazar, Legislative Director for U.S.  PIRG.  “The Senate has taken a step in the right direction and we look forward to seeing this legislation through in the House.”

"The idea behind this bill is straightforward: If the government is going to cut deals on behalf of the American people," said U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, "the American people are entitled to know what kind of a deal they're getting."

“I am grateful to my colleagues in the Senate for supporting legislation that ensures the American taxpayer has full access to review settlements negotiated on their behalf,” said U.S. Senator James Lankford. “The Truth in Settlements Act will create accountability and transparency for federal agencies to follow and provide specific details to the public regarding decisions made by agencies. This bill will also shed light onto settlements that result in new federal regulations, especially when taxpayers are forced to pay the cost for reimbursing legal fees for private parties that sue the government.”

 

You can read U.S. PIRG’s research report on the tax implications of legal settlements here: (link).

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