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As end of the year budget discussions continue to unfold in Washington and the holiday season gets roaring, we need our elected leaders to look overseas.

When I say that, I don’t mean they should be thinking about where to vacation, what I mean is that our elected officials in D.C. need to prioritize closing offshore corporate tax loopholes.

A report by the U.S. Public Interest Group Education Fund and Citizens for Tax Justice found that 13 Michigan Fortune 500 companies are hiding $54 billion overseas to shield it from U.S. taxes.

In total, U.S. multinational corporations have $2.1 trillion in profits that are offshore. They owe about $600 billion on those profits.

That’s money owed to the American people that should be used to fund priorities here at home like roads and bridges, public transportation, mental health services and, as is often a contentious debate in Michigan, education funding.

The $600 billion alone is 10 times the federal education budget.

We need to stand with our elected leaders like U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, who is vice chair of the Senate Finance Committee, and is working to end these offshore corporate tax loopholes.

There’s too much at stake here at home for these greedy corporations to continue to get a free pass on paying their fair share.

There has been debate after debate when it comes to education funding in our state, but rather than arguing over where the crumbs and scraps of funding should be going, we’re missing a bigger piece of the pie.

According to numbers compiled by the National Education Association, over the last four years, Michigan has lost over $687 million in state dollars for education due to corporations not paying their fair share in taxes.

That’s money that belongs in our classrooms to help our kids get a better future. It doesn’t belong in a foreign tax haven to help CEOs pad their pockets and dole out massive bonus checks.

If we pushed Congress to close these loopholes, we could generate about $100 billion in revenue a year. That would translate into about $100 million extra for Michigan each year in federal education spending, according to data from the National Education Association.

Corporations that take advantage of tax havens use Michigan roads, employ working people who were educated in our public schools and enjoy the security afforded to us by police and fire departments.

But these same companies ultimately contribute very little to these public goods when they hide their profits overseas to purposely avoid paying taxes.

Working people, like teachers, construction workers, public employees and single parents pay their fair share in taxes every time they get their paycheck. It’s time corporations are forced to do the same.

Call your representatives in Washington, call Stabenow, and urge them to close these offshore corporate tax loopholes that are robbing Americans of the services and community support we deserve.

Linda Teeter is the executive director of Michigan Citizen Action and leads the Americans for Tax Fairness campaign in Michigan.

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