Businesses should compete based on the quality of their products and services, not on the cleverness of their tax attorneys.

Tuesday, small-business owners like us happily paid our taxes like we’re supposed to, but our tax code allows multinational giants like GE to pay nothing in federal income taxes.

That isn’t right nor fair.

We both run small businesses in Portland.

Cathy has co-owned Arabica Coffee House since 1995 and recently opened Crema Coffee in the Old Port.

Between the two shops, she employs more than 20 people.


Dory owns Old Port Wool and Textile Company, which opened last October.

The business is a relaunch of a very successful business she owned several years ago making wool capes, shawls and blankets.

We just returned from a trip to Washington where we joined small business owners from across the country to urge our elected officials to support a more fair tax structure.

This means ending tax loopholes for corporations shipping jobs overseas and closing tax havens that allow companies to avoid paying taxes on astronomical profits.

Right here in Maine our Legislature is leading the charge to make sure corporations pay their fair share.

On Monday the Maine Senate passed a measure to prevent multinational corporations from evading Maine taxes through offshore tax havens.


States lose an average of $20 billion dollars annually, and tax haven loopholes cost our country an estimated $90 billion in lost revenue every year.

Every dollar corporations avoid in taxes means more cuts to public programs and investments that make America a good place to do business.

This bill is a step in the right direction, but it’s not enough to ask states to pick up, one by one.

It is Congress’s responsibility to collect taxes from corporations.

Large multinational companies get all the benefits of American infrastructure, security and education, but don’t pay their share of the bill.

Twenty six companies with zero or less total federal income tax over a five-year period collectively earned $170 billion in profits.


Those companies included GE, Boeing, Verizon and Pepco.

It is disturbing that many of these companies pay more money to lobby against taxes than they are actually paying in taxes, especially at a time when they are pulling in record profits.

When these companies don’t pay their taxes, small business owners have to pick up the tab.

The United States needs this money.

It’s the same money that keeps teachers in schools, repairs bridges and keeps public safety intact.

Right here in Portland, the social service safety net is being stretched beyond belief with record numbers of homeless — including children and families — this winter averaging 481 people in the shelters each night.


Part of the American dream is starting your own business.

But small business owners are the ones waking up in the middle of the night worrying about making payroll and providing their employees with health insurance while large corporations skirt their tax responsibility.

As small business owners, we are very connected to our local community, and we feel responsible for the people we employ.

It is time that this same message be articulated to corporations through good policies to ensure that they pay their fair share in taxes and not hide their profits in off- shore accounts, some of which are linked to illegal activities that even law enforcement cannot prosecute.

Large corporations are avoiding paying taxes because the system is set up to allow them to do so.

It is that simple.

We hope that the bill passed by the Maine Senate on Monday becomes law with Gov. Paul LePage’s signature.

After our conversations in Washington, we implore our elected leaders in Congress to follow the lead of our elected officials right here in Maine and support legislation to close these loopholes and create policy that ensures that everyone is paying their fair share.

We are eagerly awaiting a reply from Sen. Susan Collins’ office on the matter, and are hopeful that both she and Sen. Angus King will cosponsor the bill presented by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) to close these loopholes.

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