When my children were little, I couldn’t stand it when people asked how many months old they were. I never said 16 months or 21 months. I’d say, “a year and a half, or two years old.” But when it comes to talking about the pandemic, when each month feels like a year, it feels necessary to say that we’ve been dealing with this crisis for 19 months.

For 19 months, Mainers have been stepping up for one another by picking up groceries for older neighbors, shopping at local businesses, and donating time and resources to food pantries. But during these 19 months, the pandemic has also forced Mainers to confront the stark reality that our public programs are severely underfunded.

It’s not an accident that we’re in this situation. Years of tax policies specifically designed to help big multinational corporations hide their money in offshore tax havens like Panama or the Cayman Islands have left Maine people behind. During the pandemic, we felt even more acutely how this lack of funding impacted our lives.

While working families and small business owners are paying their fair share in taxes, large, multinational corporations are shirking their responsibility to the Maine people. This means that money to fix our roads and bridges, fund our schools and improve services for older adults and people with disabilities is instead being used to line the pockets of a few individuals with power and influence enough to skirt the rules.

This wealth hoarding deprives our state of more than $50 million in revenue every year, and it leaves hardworking Maine employees and small business owners to pick up the slack. Those missing funds are  vital to building an economy that allows everyone access to high quality public education, affordable health care and clean air and water. These are funds that could be used to expand broadband and transportation systems in Maine, giving smaller businesses the chance to succeed and compete in our state’s economy. Simply put, since we care deeply about our community and our future as a state, we have to end corporate tax haven abuse in Maine.

As House chair of the Taxation Committee, I am committed to passing policies that support all Mainers. That’s why I’ve supported legislation to lower property taxes and make owning a home or running a business more affordable. But in order to help more Mainers achieve financial stability, we must ensure that big, multinational corporations are paying their taxes equitably. After all, these are corporations that are using our roads to transport their goods and benefiting from our schools to hire skilled workers. It’s time big corporations pitch in. To that end, we must pass legislation to prohibit tax haven abuse.

This is, of course, not a problem specific to Maine. President Biden has announced a plan to close loopholes in global tax laws which allow these offshore havens to flourish at our expense. His proposal of a global minimum tax rate for multinational corporations has gained traction not only with the G7, representing the world’s wealthiest economies, but also with the G20, a much more diverse group of countries who are facing the same shortcomings by these multinational players. They recently reached an accord to establish a worldwide minimum tax rate of 15%, thus undercutting the allure of tax havens. To succeed, however, Biden will need the support of all states, additional nations, as well as the time and resources to hash out the logistics. He will also need the support of Congress, which could benefit from the more thant $427 billion in annual revenue that could be recovered.

Regardless of the national and global strategy to hold corporations accountable, the Maine State Legislature can and must act on ending tax haven abuse within the next year. Our communities have been working hard to overcome the impacts of the pandemic, but we can only truly recover economically by increasing investments in our transportation systems, schools, child care, broadband and other resources critical to making our economy work. With a potential $50 million revenue boost paid that doesn’t raise taxes on everyday Mainers and small business owners, the decision should be a no-brainer.

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