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Manchin asked to help end tax breaks for some corporations

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The West Virginia Citizen Action Group, a member of Americans for Tax Fairness, visited the Charleston offices of Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., on Wednesday, asking him to fight for corporate tax reform to end tax breaks for corporations that ship jobs and profits offshore.

CAG delivered a poster-sized IRS W-2 form to Manchin's office with the names of six national companies that have major operations in West Virginia, but have paid no federal income taxes for at least one of the last four years.

Gary Zuckett, executive director of CAG, said, "The reason we are doing it now is that working people get their W-2 forms by the end of this month.

"We wanted to highlight the fact that there were 30 corporations that didn't pay any income taxes in 2008, 2009 or 2010 - the 'Dirty Thirty.' Many got millions of dollars back from the federal government," Zuckett said.

The visit to Manchin's office was part of a national day of action involving state and national labor, advocacy and faith groups calling for "Fair Taxes, Not Cuts" in 18 states.

Manchin said, "I appreciate [Citizen] Action Group sharing their ideas with my office. Since arriving in the Senate, I have fought for comprehensive tax reform that levels the playing field and makes sure that everyone pays their fair share.

"I have been a great supporter of the Bowles-Simpson framework, which broadens the base and lowers rates. I also want to see the corporate tax structure reformed. It's important to adjust tax rates by closing unfair loopholes and deductions. I will continue to seriously consider any proposals that accomplish these goals."

Zuckett said, "National discussions about cutting the federal deficit have been talking about cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, child care and education.

"Instead, we should be looking for corporations making millions of dollars in profits to pay their fair share to the U.S. Treasury."

Those corporations operating in West Virginia include: General Electric, American Electric Power, DuPont, Verizon, First Energy and NiSource, Zuckett said.

NiSource is the parent company of Columbia Gas Transmission, the company whose gas pipelines recently exploded along the interstate in Sissonville.

(A report about the 30 corporations, which Zuckett said are exploiting tax loopholes, is available at: http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/11/03/360185/30-corporations-no-taxes.)

"We need to bring some of the revenues back home from places like the Cayman Islands," Zuckett said. "We need to put people back to work rebuilding our infrastructure -- our roads and bridges -- and to keep paying our teachers.

"Now is not the time to cut social programs people rely on to keep going, because unemployment is still high. Austerity measures kill jobs. Cuts in federal programs kill jobs. We should be creating jobs," Zuckett said.

Sam Hickman, CEO of the West Virginia chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, said, "Most people don't realize what a great investment social programs are.

"They help working families keep their heads above water and they support self-sufficiency. Companies that avoid paying taxes on their profits also avoid paying their fair share for these beneficial programs," Hickman said.

Zuckett said hundreds of billons in taxes could be generated annually by closing loopholes that allow corporations to ship their profits overseas and by limiting tax deductions for the wealthiest 2 percent of all Americans.

Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjnyden@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.


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