Tax Chairman Neal Takes Checks From the Worst Corporate Tax Dodgers

Neal's Q1 FEC report shows donations from PACs of companies with tax rates as low as -34% last year.

Tax Chairman Neal Takes Checks From the Worst Corporate Tax Dodgers
Congressman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) speaks at the Senate Finance Committee hearing at the US Capitol on February 25, 2021.

As he prepares to oversee the tax portions of President Biden’s infrastructure plan, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) has disclosed taking donations this year from the PACs of some of the most extreme corporate tax avoiders in America. 

In the three years that the Trump tax cuts have been in effect, utility holding company Duke Energy has collected $7.9 billion in pre-tax income while paying zero federal income taxes and having an effective federal tax rate of, on average, -15.5%, according to the nonprofit Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP). Shipping giant FedEx has also paid no federal income taxes during that period, enjoying an average effective tax rate of -12.8% on its $6.9 billion in pre-tax income. 

The Neal campaign took $1,000 Duke Energy’s PAC and $5,000 from FedEx’s PAC in March, according to its latest campaign finance filing. Neal’s committee oversees all legislation on tax issues.

Duke Energy and FedEx rank third and fourth for having had the lowest average tax rates under the Trump tax bill among all profitable American companies, according to ITEP. 

Since 2017, FedEx’s PAC has given Neal a total of $19,500 and Duke Energy’s has given him $15,500.

Biden proposed paying for his infrastructure bill by raising corporate tax rates from 21% to 28% and having Congress pass measures to combat offshore tax dodging and other strategies that companies employ to avoid paying federal taxes. 

Neal has already told reporters that he only partially supports Biden’s plan for how to pay for the bill and that he plans to make changes when it comes before his committee. 

“We’re going to hear what people have to say on the pay-fors,” Neal said on April 1. “Presidents always give instructions knowing that when it gets to Congress, if you can improve on the proposals, they want to hear it.”

FedEx Chairman and CEO Fred Smith has already said he opposes Biden’s proposal to raise corporate taxes. 

In the past, Neal would campaign on his desire to raise corporate taxes and go after offshore accounting techniques, and he proposed many bills in past sessions of Congress to do so. However, as Sludge previously reported, Neal abruptly stopped introducing bills to end corporate tax avoidance in 2015 when he became the Ways and Means Committee’s top Democrat.