Sen. Bernard Sanders took aim at some of America’s biggest corporations Wednesday in his crusade to raise taxes on the wealthy, accusing the companies of “legalized tax fraud” for using off-shore banks to avoid U.S. taxes.
Mr. Sanders, the ranking member on the Senate Banking Committee, released a report that showed more than half of the companies in the Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs from Americans top corporations, are collectively holding more than $1 trillion in profits in offshore tax haven countries.
“Instead of sheltering profits in the Cayman Islands and other offshore tax havens, the largest corporations in this country must pay their fair share of taxes so that our country has the revenue we need to rebuild America and reduce the deficit,” said Mr. Sanders, a Vermont independent who caucuses with Democrats and is eyeing a 2016 White House run as the party’s liberal alternative to former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The report is the latest in a series of speeches and policy proposals in which Mr. Sanders has staked out his far-left agenda, including plans to expand entitlement programs and create a government-run Medicare-for-all healthcare system.
He also re-introduced legislation that would crack down offshore tax havens by requiring American companies to pay the top U.S. corporate tax rate on profits held abroad.
“It is an outrage that the CEOs of the largest and most profitable corporations in this country are calling for even more tax breaks to help themselves while, at the same time, are advocating for huge cuts to Social Security and Medicare and other programs that help working families,” Mr. Sanders said in a statement.
“While the middle-class of this country is disappearing and millions of working families are struggling economically, the clear goal of the Business Roundtable is to make the rich even richer at the expense of everyone else. That is not only morally repugnant, it is bad economic policy,” he said.
Mr. Sanders’ report showed that several of the companies in the association have been profitable for years but pay nowhere near the 35 percent income tax rate that nominally applies to corporate profits and notes that some corporations — including General Electric, Boeing, Duke Energy and Verizon — not only have paid no federal income tax in recent years but also received tax refunds.
Matt Miller, vice president of tax and fiscal policy at the Business Roundtable, said Mr. Sanders’ report was “simply wrong,” noting that the U.S. already has the highest corporate tax rate among developed countries.
“The Sanders’ study draws unsubstantiated conclusions from an incomplete review of financial statements,” he said in a statement to The Washington Times. “Further, during the recent recession and the weak recovery Congress enacted a number of tax provisions intended to strengthen the economy and boost employment that reduced current tax payments by accelerating deductions that would have been taken at a later date. To draw sweeping conclusions on the U.S. tax system from this limited analysis is simply wrong.”
He said the association stands by its call for reform of the U.S. tax system.
“Our outmoded tax system prevents American companies from competing on a level playing field with their foreign competitors and results in foreign earnings being locked out of the U.S. economy,” Mr. Miller said. “It is time to reform the tax system to promote U.S. competitiveness and higher wages for American workers.”