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Taxpayers gathered at the Royal Oak post office today to call for closing loopholes they say allow 83 of the 100 largest corporations in America to avoid an estimated $100 billion a year in taxes by hiding their profits overseas.

Advocates from the Public Interest Research Group in Michigan and representatives of Progress Michigan and A Better Michigan Future gathered about 11:30 a.m. to push for changes they say will put Michiganders back to work.

Meghan Hess, PIRGIM program associate, said many individuals and households pay more in taxes than some of the largest multinational corporations.

“Reports of giant corporations which make billions in profits, like GE, paying little to nothing in income taxes in 2010 show us that the time for reform is now,” Hess said.

PIRGIM released a report today called “Tax Shell Game: How Much Did Offshore Tax Havens Cost You in 2010?” The group says the answer is $295 per taxpayer in Michigan.

The report highlights how major corporations and some individuals avoid federal taxes by “off-shoring” the profits they make here in the United States or by setting up sham headquarters in tax haven countries, leaving ordinary taxpayers to foot the bill.

Frank Houston, campaign director for A Better Michigan Future, said the corporate tax loopholes come at the expense of small business and taxpayers, “shortchanging our ability to pay for world-class schools and critical services that impact public health and safety.”

In the weeks and months leading up to Tax Day, Congress debated the national debt, rising deficits, and across the board cuts to a range of public priorities such as food safety inspectors, Pell grants and clean air and water programs.

Representatives from the Michigan organizations said it’s time to address the deficit by closing corporate tax loopholes, too. They pointed to some companies that received taxpayer-funded bailout money or receive lucrative government contracts and use tax havens, including American Express, A.I.G, Exxon Mobil, Goldman Sachs and Pfizer.

“Taxpayer funded handouts for big corporations and millionaires have done nothing to move the country forward. said Leigh Fifelski, communications director of Progress Michigan. “Instead of cutting Medicare and taking away funding for job training programs, let’s end tax breaks and close these loopholes for corporate CEO’s and millionaires.”


Hess said Main Street businesses and taxpayers without access to an army of accountants pick up the tab.

“We’ve already paid to bail out the banks and other big corporations – is it fair to ask us to pay their taxes as well?” Hess asked.

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