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More Than Half of the Lobbyists in Washington Have Plunged Into the Tax Debate

Dec. 1, 2017

More Than Half of the Lobbyists in Washington Have Plunged Into the Tax Debate

New Public Citizen Report: 20 Corporations and Trade Associations Have Hired 50 Lobbyists Each to Influence Tax Issues in 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – More than half of the federal lobbyists active in 2017 have worked on tax issues, according to a Public Citizen report issued today, as the U.S. Senate considers whether to give corporations and the wealthy a giant tax cut.

“The mind-boggling number of lobbyists corporate America has hired to reshape the tax code is of almost biblical proportions and undoubtedly cost a fortune,” said Lisa Gilbert, Public Citizen’s vice president of legislative affairs. “But the rate reductions and other favors in the legislation will exact a far greater price on regular Americans.”

For the report, “Swamped,” Public Citizen analyzed lobbying disclosure data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics. Among the findings:

• A total of 6,243 lobbyists have been listed on lobbying disclosure forms as working on issues involving the word “tax” in 2017. That equals 57 percent of the lobbyists who have reported any lobbying activity in 2017 and is equivalent to more than 11 lobbyists for every member of Congress.
• Each of the 20 organizations hiring the most lobbyists on tax issues reported working on “tax reform” specifically, meaning their lobbying has been relevant to the ongoing debate on overhauling the tax code. Corporate tax rates, repatriation of corporate profits, intra-organizational transfers of assets, deductibility of interest and depreciation rules were among frequently listed lobbying topics.
• Twenty corporations and trade associations have hired at least 50 lobbyists apiece. The organization hiring the most lobbyists to work on tax issues was the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (100). The Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs of the nation’s largest corporations, deployed 51 lobbyists.
• Members of 26 industries have hired at least 150 lobbyists each to work on tax issues, led by pharmaceuticals (653) and insurance (600).
• Five corporations have hired at least 15 separate lobbying firms in additional to their in-house lobbyists to work for them on tax issues so far in 2017: Comcast Corp. (23 firms), Anheuser-Busch (19), Verizon Communications, (17), Microsoft (16) and Altria Group (15).
• Thirty-one lobbyists with ties to President Donald Trump or Vice President Mike Pence (mostly through working on the Trump campaign or transition) have worked on tax issues in 2017.