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June 6, 2013

Industry Lobbyists Dominate Debate on Tax Reform

New Report Quantifies Corporate Efforts to Preserve Industry-Friendly Tax Code

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Legislation in Congress that would address tax loopholes, raise revenue, increase the fairness of the tax code and provide stability to the financial system are subject to lobbying efforts that are overwhelmingly lopsided in favor of industry interests, a new Public Citizen report shows.

The report, “Lax Taxes: Industry Has Resource Advantage in Battle over Bills that Would Raise Revenue and Bring Fairness to Tax Code,” analyzes lobbying disclosure data to illustrate the number of lobbyists working on any one of the three bills: the Cut Unjustified Tax Loopholes Act (CUT Loopholes), the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act and the Wall Street Trading and Speculators Tax Act – finding that 331 of the 383 lobbyists, or 86 percent, who have worked on these bills in the past two Congresses represent industry clients.

The lopsided nature of the fight is most obvious in the debate over the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act, which would close or seek to deter the use of corporate tax loopholes, particularly offshore tax havens. On this bill, industry lobbyists outnumber reform lobbyists by a nearly 20-1 ratio. The ratios for CUT Loopholes and the Wall Street Trading and Speculators Tax Act are 10-1 and 5-1 respectively.

“The figures in this report show the overwhelming advantage corporations enjoy over the interests of ordinary Americans, and how they use their resources to keep from paying their fair share,” said Adam Crowther, researcher for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division and author of the report.

In the first three months of the current Congress, the report finds, more total entities lobbied on these bills than lobbied on the same bills in the previous Congress.

Public Citizen’s report also quantifies the degree to which industry lobbyists are bolstered by past government experience. Public Citizen identified 172 lobbyists with such government experience, including five former members of Congress, 21 former congressional chiefs of staff and seven former congressional committee staff directors. Of these 172 “revolvers,” 165 worked on behalf of industry and corporate clients, while only seven former public servants represented pro-reform organizations.

“Corporate America is clearly flourishing, in large part because of its inordinate political influence—and it’s seeking to exploit its resources as the current tax reform debate heats up,” said Micah Hauptman, financial policy counsel for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division.  “At the same time, ordinary Americans, who don’t have such extensive political advantages, are still suffering from the Great Recession.”

For a copy of the report, go to: http://www.citizen.org/documents/corporate-tax-lobbying-report.pdf

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