CULLERTON MOVES TO MAKE CORPORATE TAX DATA PUBLIC
- Publicly held companies that do business in Illinois would have to disclose how much they pay in state income taxes, under legislation unveiled today by Senate President John Cullerton.
In a move likely to draw both howls and cheers, Mr. Cullerton today is amending a vehicle bill with language that for the first time would require firms to tell the public and not just the state's Department of Revenue what they earn here, and what taxes they pay.
The disclosure would be delayed for two years after the end of the tax year — "a safeguard against revealing proprietary corporation information that could erode competitiveness," according to Mr. Cullerton's office. Thus, data for tax year 2012 would not become public until Jan. 1, 2015.
"Publicly traded corporations already tell shareholders how their investments resulted in losses and profits. The people of Illinois deserve the same transparency," Mr. Cullerton said in a statement shortly before a Senate committee was to take up his bill.
"This legislation will provide a crucial tool to evaluate the need for corporate tax breaks and incentives."
Specifically, the bill would require firms doing business in Illinois to disclose their base income, taxable income and taxes before and after any eligible credits were applied.
The question of who pays what prominently surfaced in recent debate over a measure designed to cut taxes for CME Group Inc., Sears Holdings Corp. and others that threatened to bolt the state for lower-tax climes.
Much of the data that was provided came from the companies themselves, not the Department of Revenue, which cited confidentiality laws. Since then, the department has declined to answer questions including whether any other companies gained from the CME tax break.
The same issue surfaced last year when a legislative working group considered steps to modernize the state's tax code but had difficulty obtaining detailed data.
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