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Corporations, Special Interests Lobbying Taxes to Death

April 19, 2011

(This article is re-posted from Open Secrets.)

Businesses hate taxes, which is why they love lobbying the federal government in a bid to keep them low, lower or less than that.

And on this day — Tax Day 2011 — the Center for Responsive Politics pause a moment to reflect on the corporation, trade associations and special interest groups that lobbied most during 2010 on taxation issues.

Computer software giant Microsoft leads all others, having filed 50 separate lobbying reports listing a tax issue as the target of its lobbying efforts. Specific tax issues on which Microsoft lobbied would have made an accountant’s head spin, as they ranged from research and development tax credits to “general corporate and international tax issues” to a request for “relief from requirement to file a report of foreign bank and financial accounts relating to retirement plan investments.”

In second place is Altria Group, which owns subsidiaries such as tobacco company PhilipMorrisUSA and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. And you guessed it: the taxation of tobacco products dominates its list of specific issues on which it lobbied last year.

Rounding out the top five most active companies and special interests lobbying the federal government on taxation in 2010 are Verizon Communications, General Motors and General Electric.

  Lobbying entity   No. of reports 
Microsoft

50

Altria Group

44

Verizon Communications

43

General Motors

41

General Electric

33

Intuit

33

National Cable & Telecommunications Assoc.

33

Anheuser-Busch InBev

32

Edison Electric Institute

31

Expedia

31

American Council of Life Insurers

29

Fortune Brands

26

Business Roundtable

25

Oracle America

25

Citigroup

24

Comcast

24

ExxonMobil

24

Managed Funds Association

24

Wal-Mart Stores

24

Biotechnology Industry Organization

23

eBay

23

Investment Company Institute

23

Time Warner Cable

23

Honeywell International

22

American Petroleum Institute

21

Brown-Forman

21

Coca-Cola

21

NextEra Energy

21

American Institute of CPAs

20

American Wind Energy Association

20

Covidien Ltd.

20

H&R Block

20

National Business Aviation Association

20

New York Life Insurance

20

Sunoco

20

Tyco Electronics

20

Xcel Energy

20

Because of the limitations of federal lobbying disclosures, it’s impossible to determine exactly how much money such companies and organizations spent lobbying on taxation — or any other issue.

But the Center determines this: In all, 1,882 different entities last year lobbied the federal government on tax issues. That figure sets a new mark for one year, as 1,804 different entities (the previous record) lobbied on tax issues in 2009.

Predictably, Taxpayers Against Fraud, the Washington Tax Group, Multistate Tax Commission and the Council on State Taxation are members of last year’s gaggle that lobbied on — wait for it — taxes.

Not all, however, are massive corporations or tax groups. On the list are names from all corners of the business, labor, nonprofit, sports and even government realms.

A tiny taste: the University of Southern California, the Screen Actors Guild, Nassau County in New York, Major League Baseball Commissioner’s Office and the Easter Seals Society.

View the full list here.

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