Take a Responsible Approach to Closing Corporate Tax Loopholes

As I noted yesterday, the Pennsylvania House is scheduled to debate legislation today that would take a modest step toward closing tax loopholes while making business tax reductions that would cost nearly $1 billion by the end of the decade.

Today I outlined our concerns with House Bill 2150 in an op-ed in The Philadelphia Inquirer. Here's an excerpt:

For too long, big companies have benefited from Pennsylvania lawmakers’ refusal to close tax loopholes. They have been free to use aggressive avoidance schemes to shield their income from state taxes and shift the cost of public services to families and other businesses.

After close to a billion dollars in cuts to public schools and social services, state lawmakers from both parties are taking another look at this issue. This bipartisan recognition of the problem is welcome.

Unfortunately, one proposed cure may be worse than the disease. State Rep. Dave Reed (R., Indiana) has introduced legislation, expected to be considered today, that would take a modest step toward closing loopholes but also give businesses tax cuts that would cost nearly $1 billion by the end of the decade. Closing loopholes only to open up big budget deficits is not the way to go.

But lawmakers do need to address this issue responsibly. In the three years after the recession hit, 265 profitable Fortune 500 companies managed to avoid paying state taxes on at least half their profits, according to a report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. Sixty-eight companies on that list — including such Pennsylvania-based companies as Heinz and Comcast — paid no state income tax on profits in at least one of those years.

None of these companies is breaking the law — and that’s exactly the problem.

Read the full op-ed here.

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