Friday, May 29, 2015



In 1984, President Ronald Reagan had an epiphany. His Treasury Secretary informed him that Reagan’s former employer, General Electric, and dozens of other major American corporations did not “pay a penny in taxes to the United States government.” In fact, the Treasury Secretary added, “your secretary paid more federal taxes last year than all of those giant companies put together.”

That information, not to mention the exact phrasing, came straight from Citizens for Tax Justice. Upon hearing it, Reagan ordered his Treasury Secretary to “go full steam ahead” with what became the Tax Reform Act of 1986. That law repudiated Reagan’s earlier loophole-crazed tax policies and swept away most of the tax-shelter schemes and loopholes that cluttered the tax code.

CTJ’s studies on corporate tax avoidance, including 130 Reasons Why We Need Tax Reform (1986), Corporate Taxpayers & Corporate Freeloaders (1985) and Money for Nothing: The Failure of Corporate Tax Incentives, 1981-1984 (1986) have been widely cited for their key role in the enactment of this tax reform legislation in 1986. Indeed, The Washington Post called CTJ’s reports a “key turning point” in the tax reform debate that “had the effect of touching a spark to kindling” and “helped to raise public ire against corporate tax evaders.” The Wall Street Journal said that CTJ “helped propel the tax-overhaul effort,” and the Associated Press reported that CTJ’s studies “assured that something would be done… to make profitable companies pay their share.” And in the wake of CTJ’s agenda-setting role in the 1986 tax reform debate, the Washington Monthly ranked CTJ at the top of its list of America’s “best public interest groups.”

In 1991, CTJ’s Inequality and the Federal Budget Deficit examined the linkage between tax cuts for the wealthy and the mounting federal deficit.