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  • A picture of Senator Carl Levin


    by Former Senator Carl Levin

    Posted on 2013-02-26

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    LEVIN. Before Senator Sanders leaves, let me commend him. I didn't hear all his remarks, but I know the subject of his address, his remarks, was the fact corporations now contribute about 10 percent of the total revenue which comes into Uncle Sam. Years ago, it was about 50 percent, and then gradually it has come down to about where it is now.

    The reason for that, mainly, is that there are a whole bunch of gimmicks and loopholes which have been inserted into our tax laws which need to be closed. If they can be closed, we would be able to avoid sequestration. That is how big the loopholes are.

    I am not talking about deductions, which most people would say serve a useful purpose. Whether people agree with that purpose, at least deductions, as we generally understand deductions, serve some kind of a productive purpose. For instance, corporations get accelerated depreciation when they buy equipment. That serves a very important purpose. It gives an incentive to buy equipment.

    Even the oil and gas credit, which I don't support, nonetheless, the purpose of it is to give an incentive to explore and drill for oil and gas. Whether one agrees with that purpose, at least it is a purpose. When it comes to these loopholes and gimmicks which are used to shift revenues to tax havens, there is no useful purpose. The only purpose is taxable. Those are the loopholes which we can close, and those are the loopholes which it seems to me there ought to be broad bipartisan support to close. If we can close them, we can avoid sequestration. Again, that is how big these loopholes are.

    [[Page S844]] I very much appreciate the reference by the Senator from Vermont to our Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations and the work we have been doing, and I very much appreciate the energy he brings to this effort. It ought to be bipartisan. Again, these kinds of loopholes are not what most people consider to be legitimate deductions but are a kind of tax- avoidance scheme that should not be in the law even if we had no deficit. I guess one of the critical differences between these kinds of tax-avoidance gimmicks and the ordinary deductions corporations take is the fact that the use of these and the abuse of these should be eliminated on a bipartisan basis.

    So I would like to thank my friend. I wish I had caught the early part of his remarks, but that was not to be.

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