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Sen. Levin continues fight against tax havens

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) has waged a long fight against tax havens, and this week he renews the charge with a new campaign called Business and Investors Against Tax Haven Abuse. The group released a report this week estimating that U.S. multinational corporations use tax havens to avoid $37 billion in U.S. taxes per year.

The report also says that according to the Government Accountability Office, 83 of the 100 largest publicly traded U.S. corporations had subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Switzerland, Luxembourg and other offshore tax havens in 2007.

There's been fierce debate in Washington over how to tax the overseas profits of large U.S. companies operating in different countries. The White House has proposed various ways of closing so-called loopholes in the international tax code, saying that doing so can stem the tide of jobs being shipped overseas. Meanwhile, businesses complain that the corporate income tax rate of 35 percent is too high compared to other countries, and they wind up using convoluted methods for lowering their effective tax rate to go toe-to-toe with foreign competitors.

In 2007, Levin, together with then-Sen. Barack Obama, introduced a piece of legislation called the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act. Levin has also used his perch on the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations to shed light on the issue.

By Jia Lynn Yang  |  July 21, 2010; 2:45 PM ET
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