Offshore Tax Haven Money Could Save Us From the Fiscal Cliff

<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-87322042/stock-photo-cayman-brac-quiet.html?src=csl_recent_image-1">lweissman</a>/Shutterstock

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Offshore tax havens—like the ones Mitt Romney has relied on—screw the federal treasury out of some $150 billion a year, but as Congress and the president haggle over where to scrimp and save, there’s been nary a mention of this potential deficit-busting gold mine. Today, the consumer group USPIRG released a report detailing what we could do with all that cash.

At least 83 of the top 100 publicly traded corporations in America shield large chunks of their income from taxes by keeping it overseas, according to the Government Accountability Office. In fact, according to the USPIRG report, 30 of the nation’s biggest, richest companies actually profited off the tax code between 2008 and 2010, by avoiding taxes and getting tax refunds from the government. USPIRG notes that one of the techniques Google used to save $3.1 billion over that time period is called “double Irish,” and involves two Irish subsidiaries and one in the tax haven Bermuda.

Minus all that revenue, Congress is looking to American taxpayers to pick up the deficit tab by raising Medicare co-payments and cutting food stamps and such.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, weighed in on the report, saying, “Closing corporate tax loopholes should be part of the conversation about how to avoid the fiscal cliff… Congress has to choose whether it will protect offshore corporate loopholes that enable many multinationals to pay little or no tax, or close them to address our deficit problem and to fund national defense, education, health care, and other critical needs.”

The $150 billion could either wipe out the fiscal cliff spending cuts for 2013, according to the report, or generate over a third of the debt reduction goal of $4 trillion over 10 years. Here are some of the other fun things the report says $150 billion could buy us:

Job creation: Loan guarantees for half a million small businesses.

Student aid: Pell grants for 10 million students every year for four years.

Green energy: Thirty years of tax incentives for the production of renewable energy production.

21st century transpo: The construction of 15 commuter rail lines, 50 light rail transit lines, and over 800 bus rapid transit lines.

Healthcare: Three times the current funding for domestic violence and sexual abuse programs over 50 years.

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Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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