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News Release | US PIRG Education Fund | Tax

Government Agencies Allow Corporations to Write Off Billions in Federal Settlement Payments

A new study by United States Public Interest Research Group Education Fund (U.S. PIRG) analyzes which federal agencies allow companies to write off out-of-court settlements as tax deductions and which agencies are transparent about these deals. The study found that five of the largest government agencies that sign settlement agreements with corporations rarely specify the tax status of the resulting payments. Billions of dollars are allowed to be written off as cost of doing business tax deductions. Additionally, the report found that major government agencies do not consistently disclose the details of corporate settlement agreements.

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Blog Post | Democracy

Three ways you can join the fight against big-money politics

We're still a year away from the 2016 presidential election, but we've already seen massive fundraising numbers coming from Super PACs and outside groups. Here are a few ways you can fight big money politics right now.

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Report | US PIRG Education Fund | Tax

Settling for a Lack of Accountability?

When large companies harm the public through fraud, financial scams, chemical spills, dangerous products or other misdeeds, they almost never just pay a fine or penalty, as ordinary people would. Instead, these companies negotiate out-of-court settlements that resolve the charges in return for stipulated payments or promised remedies. These agreements, made on behalf of the American people, are not subject to any transparency standards and companies often write them off as tax deductions claimed as necessary and ordinary costs of doing business.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Democracy

D.C. Council Introduces Fair Elections Legislation

At a press conference this Tuesday, D.C. Councilmember David Grosso introduced fair elections legislation to empower small donors and reduce the influence of special interest groups in D.C. elections. Grosso was joined by the D.C. Fair Elections coalition, including DC for Democracy, D.C. Working Families, U.S. PIRG, Public Citizen, Every Voice, Communication Workers of America, and the D.C. chapter of the Sierra Club. The bill’s introduction comes after major victories in Maine and Seattle, where residents voted to create and strengthen fair election initiatives this November.

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Blog Post | Public Health

Not-so-secret-Santas in Congress Using Spending Bill To Roll Back Health, Safety, Wallet Protections | Ed Mierzwinski

With spending authorization for the federal government set to end on December 11, Congressional leaders are working with powerful special interests on their not-so-Secret-Santa lists to use spending bills as vehicles to gut health, safety and wallet protections popular with the general public but not with Wall Street or the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. They know they cannot win a fair fight. So they’re loading up the must-pass funding bill with so-called “riders,” which are unrelated policies that couldn’t get passed on their own. Everything we fought for in Wall Street reform, including the CFPB, is on the chopping block. So are many other PIRG health, safety, wallet and democracy priorities.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Democracy

U.S. PIRG joins NAACP in America’s Journey for Justice

Statement from Election Reform Campaign Director, Emma Boorboor:

 

“Following yesterday’s arrival of America’s Journey for Justice 1,000-mile march from Selma, U.S. PIRG today joined nearly 1,000 NAACP and Democracy Initiative activists for an Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill. Today’s efforts build on new momentum to pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA), legislation that would prevent discriminatory voting restrictions in every state.

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Media Hit | Public Health

New York Times Prints Our Take on Chemical Safety

Toxics Campaign Director Carli Jensen wrote a letter to the editor calling for stronger chemical plant safety regulations.

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Media Hit | Tax

Corporate Accountability

Letter to the Editor in the New York Times calling on the Department of Justice to end write offs for corporate wrongdoing. 

"If the Justice Department wants to get serious about holding corporations accountable for their misconduct, the department should certainly use new tools like holding people personally accountable. But the old tools, like settlement payments, need some sharpening, too."

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Tax

U.S. PIRG COMMENDS THE BIPARTISAN TRUTH IN SETTLEMENTS ACT AS A WIN FOR AMERICAN TAXPAYERS

Today, Representatives Bill Posey (R-FL) and Matt Cartwright (D-PA) reintroduced the Truth in Settlements Act.  This bill, which has already been reintroduced in the Senate by Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), would increase transparency around settlements reached between federal agencies and corporations accused of wrongdoing.  

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Democracy

Record number of Senators send SEC Chair letter on political spending disclosure

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. PIRG commends the 44 Senators who signed on to a letter calling on the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Mary Jo White to move forward with rulemaking requiring publicly traded companies to disclose their political spending, a necessity for shareholder democracy. This letter marks a record number of signers from the Senate to the SEC.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Budget, Tax

Following the Money 2013

Every year, state governments spend tens of billions of dollars through contracts with private entities for goods and services, subsidies to encourage economic development, grants, and other forms of spending. Accountability and public scrutiny are necessary to ensure that state funds are well spent.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Budget, Tax

The Hidden Cost of Offshore Tax Havens

In 2011, states lost approximately $39.8 billion in tax revenues from corporations and wealthy individuals who sheltered money in foreign tax havens. Multinational corporations account for more than $26 billion of the lost tax revenue, and wealthy individuals account for the rest.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Budget, Tax

Transparency in City Spending

The ability to see how government uses the public purse is fundamental to democracy. Transparency in government spending checks corruption, bolsters public confidence, improves responsiveness, and promotes greater effectiveness and fiscal responsibility.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Democracy

Elections Confidential

“Elections Confidential” describes how secret donors poured hundreds of millions into the 2012 election through social-welfare groups that are really political vehicles and via shell corporations formed as conduits to hide a funder’s identity. The first post-Citizens United presidential election cycle was bought and paid for by a handful of wealthy donors, but the corrosive influence of money in politics was amplified by the fact that we don’t know who – or what – actually provided much of the funding.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund, Demos | Democracy

Billion-Dollar Democracy

The first presidential election since Citizens United lived up to its hype, with unprecedented outside spending from new sources making headlines.

Demos and U.S. PIRG analysis of reports from campaigns, parties, and outside spenders to the Federal Election Commission found that our big money system distorts democracy and creates clear winners and losers.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Flying for Labor Day? Know Your Airline’s Extra Fees! | Mike Litt

On Labor Day weekend, make sure you know about non-ticket fees ahead of time to keep unexpected costs and hassles to a minimum.

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Blog Post | Public Health

A Soggy Statement from Subway | Anya Vanecek

Subway recently made a statement about their antibiotics policy. Here's where they fall short.

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Blog Post | Public Health

A Fresh Celebration | Anya Vanecek

How do you get a major chain like Subway to celebrate public health? You keep the issue fresh in their minds.

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Blog Post | Public Health

Meet the [antibiotic-free] Chef: Hosea Rosenberg, BlackBelly | Anya Vanecek

Recently, I sat down with Chef Hosea Rosenberg, owner of BlackBelly restaurant in Boulder, CO, to find out why antibiotic-free meat was as good for business as it is for public health.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

IRS Admits Data Breach Worse Than Thought, Will Congress Do Wrong Thing Anyway? | Ed Mierzwinski

This week, the IRS has admitted that thieves accessed the personal information -- enough to allow them to take your tax refund -- of an additional 220,000 taxpayers, on top of the 114,000 reported in May. Meanwhile, we remain  concerned that Congress will use continued publicity about the Target breach and other breaches as an excuse to pass dangerous data security legislation. Dangerous? Yes, because it would only protect against limited financial identity theft harms, but eliminate stronger state protections against the harms posed by the IRS breach, the health insurance breaches and the OPM breach.

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Priority Action

We're teaming up with big restaurant chains to stop the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms. Call on KFC to stop selling meat raised on routine antibiotics.

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