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The Corporate Pirates Assaulting Social Security

Research & Commentary
June 14, 2013


The CEOs with the corporate lobby group ‘Fix the Debt’ are pushing a ‘tax reform’ that could almost instantly cost the federal treasury as much as $173 billion.

Pirates plunder. Pirates don’t pay taxes on their plunder. And pirates love to frolic in the Caribbean.[pullquote]The CEOs of America’s biggest corporations have been parking billions in overseas tax havens throughout the Caribbean.[/pullquote]

That’s how pirates operated back in the day. And that’s how pirates operate today. Only back centuries ago pirates brandished gaudy cutlasses. Today’s pirates brandish gaudy cufflinks.

Today’s pirates lead America’s biggest corporations, and these “corporate pirates,” details a new Institute for Policy Studies report, pocket more loot than Blackbeard and his buddies could have ever imagined.

The CEOs of America’s biggest corporations, the new IPS Corporate Pirates of the Caribbean report shows, have been parking billions in overseas tax havens throughout the Caribbean. Now they’re “brazenly seeking to widen tax haven loopholes” with a full-court press on behalf of a tax “reform” they call a “territorial tax system.”[pullquote]At the end of 2012, the CEOs of ‘Fix the Debt’ companies had $544 billion in profits sitting overseas.[/pullquote]

This “reform” would permanently exempt the foreign earnings of U.S. corporations from U.S. federal income taxes — and give these corporations even more of an incentive to play the accounting games that shift U.S. profits offshore.

The 59 U.S. corporations that belong to “Fix the Debt,” the lobby group pushing for austerity cuts to Social Security, are already shifting plenty. At the end of 2012, the CEOs of these companies had $544 billion in profits sitting overseas, up 15 percent over the $473 billion offshore at the end of 2011.

These profits, point out Corporate Pirates authors Sarah Anderson, Scott Klinger, and Javier Rojo, currently don’t face any U.S. corporate income tax unless they’re brought back stateside. If America’s top CEOs get Congress to swallow a territorial tax system, Corporate Pirates reveals, their corporations could win “as much as $173 billion in immediate tax windfalls.”

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