Corporate tax disclosure bill re-emerges
Committees of the Illinois House of Representatives are considering whether to force Illinois corporations to publicly disclose confidential corporate tax return information.
HB 3627, introduced by Majority Leader Rep. Barbara Flynn-Currie, would require public disclosure of corporate tax return information by all publicly-traded corporations located or doing business in Illinois.
By even considering this legislation, some legislators are demonstrating yet again they fail to grasp economic realities in a global economy and the certain negative impact that such an action would have on Illinois business taxpayers.
We don’t believe that members of the General Assembly or the public should attempt to develop tax policy by perusing individual tax return information to determine which company will benefit from a change in the tax law and which company will be hurt in the form of additional taxes.
The opportunities for abuse should be apparent.
Legislators should formulate tax policy that is generally applicable to all taxpayers and that is fairly interpreted and equally enforced.
(House representatives) should ask proponents of disclosure what measureable compliance or enforcement benefit would be gained by requiring public disclosure of confidential and individual business tax information.
As the Tax Executive Institute pointed out in a letter to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee in 2006 when they were considering a similar legislative initiative: “To date, no proponent of disclosure has moved beyond anecdote and supposition in claiming that a measureable compliance or enforcement benefit can be obtained through public disclosure of corporate tax returns. …”
Let’s learn from history — before 1977, federal corporate tax returns were considered public information. However, due to executive branch misuse and abuse of the information during the Watergate years, Congress enacted present law (IRS Section 6103) to protect taxpayer privacy.
That law stands today at the federal level and Illinois’ Income Tax Act Section 917 provides similar protection at the state level.
… (HB 3627) is simply bad tax policy.
The 81st pipeline is always the hardest one
Recently, we marked the fifth anniversary of our government’s review of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline permit. That’s right, five years and we still don’t know if the State Department will issue the permit that allows TransCanada to build an underground pipeline that will bring oil from Canada to the Texas/Gulf Coast refineries.
The Canadian Ambassador to the United States, John Doerr, was at a roundtable discussion a few weeks ago at the Chicago Council for Global Affairs and said that if anyone had told him when he became ambassador that he’d be spending most of his time talking about the 81st pipeline to cross the U.S./Canada border, he would have called him crazy.
This permit process is crazy. The 800,000 barrels of oil the pipeline would transport would bring needed oil to market and cause no long-term environmental hazards. To put this in perspective, there are more than one million barrels of oil traversing under Illinois every day. Most of the oil that comes in to Illinois and northwest Indiana refineries comes from Canada.
This process has been hampered by political grandstanding, environmental hyperbole and governmental incompetence. After this pipeline is approved (and we think it will be), a year later everyone will have forgotten about the controversy and we’ll all be reaping the benefits of a secure supply of oil from our number one trading partner.
Illinois unemployment rate remains at 9.2 percent
The latest unemployment data for Illinois shows we remain stuck at 9.2 percent, the second highest in the nation. The Illinois Department of Employment Security Director Jay Rowell stated this employment stagnation could continue as “… national and global events shape business plans and consumer confidence.” However, the actions and anti-business climate created by our state government is most likely a contributing factor that makes Illinois an outlier compared to the other industrialized Midwest states and higher than the national average at 7.3 percent.
Despite a massive income tax hike more than two and a half years ago, Illinois remains in a financial crisis with more than $7 billion in unpaid bills and the worst funded public pension system in the nation with more than $100 billion in unfunded liabilities. We also continue to have higher workers’ compensation insurance rates higher than our neighboring states despite “reforms” enacted in 2011. Until these two major issues are resolved, among other issues as well, Illinois will most likely continue to have a higher then national average unemployment rate.