With $1.4 trillion stashed offshore, it's time to get serious about tax havens

With $1.4 trillion stashed offshore, it's time to get serious about tax havens

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After the Panama Papers leak, it’s no secret that the biggest American corporations have secret piles of cash stashed in offshore tax havens to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. But what if I told you that the amount of wealth hidden away isn’t measured in millions or even billions? What if I told you it was $1.4 trillion?

That’s the number a recent report from Oxfam tallied up after scrutinizing the numbers of the top 50 US corporations -- which means we’re missing out on $111 billion in extra tax revenue every year. Just think of the schools, hospitals, green infrastructure and social programs that money could fund.

None of this is illegal. But it should be. When these corporations are hiding more wealth than the entire economic output of Russia, South Korea and Spain combined, something is seriously broken.

It’s time to demand that Congress crack down on tax shelters once and for all.

The numbers are simply staggering. Apple: $181 billion in tax shelters. Microsoft: $108 billion. General Electric: $119 billion -- even though it has received at least $28 billion in subsidies we paid for with our tax dollars. The same 50 companies have enjoyed a combined $11.2 trillion in federal loans, bailouts and guarantees from 2008 to 2014 -- all from public coffers.

How does this happen? The $2.7 billion in lobbying these corporations pay our politicians might have something to do with it. Still, Apple, Microsoft and their tax-avoiding friends get pretty good bang for their lobbying buck: for every dollar they spend lobbying, they get $130 in tax breaks and $4,000 in loans and bailouts.

This is gross. It has to stop. And Congress could do it with the stroke of a pen.

Tell Washington you’ve had it with huge corporations stashing billions offshore and avoiding taxes. Get serious about tax avoidance.

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