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Stop Tax Haven Abuse—Another Way to Fight Poverty and Inequality

It’s been a roller coaster week, and it’s not over yet. Disappointing news from the Census Bureau that we didn’t make progress reducing poverty or the wage gap last year. Exciting news from the Department of Labor about a new rule that brings home care workers one giant step closer to fair pay. The threat that the House will vote later today to slash vital SNAP (Food Stamp) benefits for millions of Americans and vote tomorrow to extend the sequester for several more months. The sequester vote will include yet another effort to defund the Affordable Care Act.

But even in Congress, there are some encouraging developments. Yesterday, several Members of Congress turned out for a special game of Chutes and Ladders (with hula hoops!) to show their support for investing in early learning. And today, Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) and cosponsors Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Mark Begich (D-AK) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introduced the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act to close offshore tax loopholes.

There are lots of good tax policy reasons to close these tax loopholes. They provide incentives for corporations to ship jobs and profits overseas. They give large multinational corporations more favorable tax treatment than Main Street businesses. And when large corporations don’t pay their fair share of taxes, the responsibility falls on families and small businesses.

And here’s another good reason to close offshore corporate tax loopholes. Another round of sequester cuts is set for FY 2014, amounting to $109 billion.  The Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act would raise about $220 billion in revenue over the next 10 years. As Senator Levin said today, “We should end these loopholes regardless of our budget situation, because they are blatantly unfair. But surely now, with sequestration continuing to damage military readiness, education, life-saving medical research and more, we should end these offshore tax avoidance schemes and use the revenue as part of a balanced plan to replace sequestration.”

End the sequester cuts to Head Start, job training, housing assistance, meals-on-wheels, and other services for struggling families? Add 900,000 jobs by next year? And get rid of unfair tax gimmicks? That choice should be easy.

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