Over last five years, companies have received $1 billion in federal contracts paid for by U.S. taxpayers while using tax loophole
Bill would ban federal contracts for companies that move their headquarters overseas to avoid paying their fair share of U.S. taxes
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Al Franken (D-MN) joined U.S. Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Sander Levin (D-MI) and Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) today in introducing legislation would ban federal contracts for companies that move their headquarters overseas, but only on paper, in order to avoid paying U.S. taxes – a process known as “inversion”.
A surge of inversion announcements last year led Democrats in the Senate and House to introduce several different measures to stem the tide. Republicans in both chambers refused to support the legislation even though similar measures received bipartisan support in the past. In 2004, a Republican-controlled House and Senate changed the tax code to discourage U.S. companies from acquiring smaller foreign companies and moving their tax home to a foreign jurisdiction as part of the overall transaction. In the last 10 years, more than 40 U.S. corporations have found a loophole in this law and have exploited it to pad their bottom line.
“Congress needs to close the inversion loophole to protect American taxpayers and businesses that pay their fair share. This legislation will incentivize more companies to remain in the U.S. and discourage them from shifting their address abroad to avoid their tax obligations. Companies that renounce their U.S. citizenship to boost profits end up driving up costs for taxpayers. This legislation will help protect American taxpayers and American jobs,” said Reed.
“Corporations seeking to evade their tax responsibilities should not be rewarded with government contracts,” said Whitehouse. “This bill would discourage inversions by making corporations that are dodging their responsibilities ineligible for federal contracts. I thank Senator Durbin for introducing this important legislation.”
“With every successful inversion, the tax burden increases on the rest of us to pay what the corporate inverter doesn’t,” said Durbin, the lead sponsor of the bill. “The burden is made worse by allowing companies to profit off of federal contracts paid for by U.S. taxpayers, while those very companies run from their U.S. tax responsibility. We should make permanent the long-standing ban on federal contracts for corporations that have renounced their American corporate citizenship.”
“When millions of Americans are paying their tax bill we are once again reminded that some unscrupulous companies are avoiding their tax obligations at the expense of those paying their fair share,” DeLauro said. “Even worse, the federal government has been subsidizing this bad behavior, by continuing to reward inverted companies with lucrative federal contracts. These companies take advantage of our education system, our research and development incentives, our skilled workforce, and our infrastructure, all supported by U.S. taxpayers, to build their businesses. But when the tax bill comes due, they hide overseas. Yet suddenly, when federal contracts are being applied for, they are all as American as Uncle Sam once again. This has to stop.”
“Americans can’t just change their address to a foreign country to avoid paying taxes, and big corporations shouldn’t be able to either,” said Levin. “We need to close this loophole to ensure that everyone’s playing by the same set of rules.”
“Corporations that renounce their citizenship not only invert their business operations but pervert our laws,” said Doggett. “Those dodging their fair share of taxes should not be rewarded with taxpayer-funded government contracts.”
“When American businesses reincorporate abroad, they skirt our tax laws and play by different rules than middle-class families and small businesses,” said Sen. Franken. “We need to crack down on the rising trend of corporate inversions, which is costing taxpayers in Minnesota and across the country billions of dollars. One way to do that is by making sure that taxpayer-funded contracts go to American companies who aren’t trying to game the system.”
According to the bipartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, inversions could cause the United States to lose about $20 billion in tax revenue over the next decade. While “inverted” companies incorporate overseas, they remain majority-owned by shareholders of the old U.S. corporation and do not have substantial business opportunities in the foreign country in which they are incorporating. Current law defines a company as being inverted if more than 80% of shareholders are the same before and after the acquisition. Today’s legislation would bring that threshold to 50%.
The legislation – introduced in the House as the No Federal Contracts for Corporate Deserters Act and in the Senate as the American Business for American Companies Act - also curbs subcontracting to inverted corporations by allowing federal agencies to ban businesses from holding federal contracts if they subcontract with inverted corporations.