Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Are Fortune 500 Companies Feeding Off Taxpayers?

Integrity Florida Makes Recommendations

A newly published study by Integrity Florida indicates Fortune 500 companies operating in Florida may not be paying their fair share of taxes despite the amount of government contracts they receive.

Nonpartisan research institute Integrity Florida released a study today to provide more transparency about the actual corporate profit tax rates being paid by the Fortune 500 corporations headquartered in Florida to state governments in the U.S.

The key findings on the report:

* While the corporate profits tax rate in Florida is 5.5 percent, the 13 profitable Fortune 500 corporations headquartered in Florida paid a 2.7 percent average corporate profits tax rate to state governments in the U.S. between 2011 and 2013.
* The 13 profitable Fortune 500 corporations headquartered in Florida made $35.1 billion in estimated corporate profits between 2011 and 2013.
* Florida taxpayers paid more than $2.4 billion to 10 of Florida's 17 top Fortune 500 corporations for state government contracts between 2011 and 2013.
* Florida taxpayers have provided 13 of the 17 Fortune 500 corporations headquartered in the state more than $147 million in subsidies.
* Floridians gave the largest profitable corporations in the state more public money through government contracts and subsidies than those corporations paid back in state taxes on their profits nationally between 2011 and 2013.
* Policies that allowed these corporations to take advantage of low corporate profits tax rates, along with large government contracts and subsidies, could be a result of the corporations' significant lobbying and campaign contributions, including the more than $22 million they spent for those purposes in Florida just between 2012 and 2014.

Recommendations from the study suggest Florida policymakers should consider adoption of the model state corporate profits tax disclosure act. Saying "At a minimum, any corporation seeking a government contract or taxpayer-funded subsidy should be required to disclose publicly the organization's corporate profits tax rate and amount of state and local tax revenue paid during the years the entity receives a government contract or subsidy."

Additionally, it is recommended that the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity's Economic Development Incentives Portal should be expanded to publicly disclose the details of every state and local subsidy deal while Florida's lobbyist disclosure laws should be enhanced to detail the exact compensation provided by clients to their lobbyists as well as the specific legislative and executive policies being influenced by their lobbying activities.
Because there is currently no registration requirement for agents, the report says "Site selection consultants and other professional services firms that seek subsidies for corporations should be required to register as lobbyists."
And finally it recommends, the Florida Legislature should implement budget transparency recommendations to help the public follow the money of lobbyists and agents.

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