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BP Gets $15.3 Billion Tax Write Off We Get Higher Taxes and Program Cuts

Deepwater_Horizon_offshore_drilling_unit_on_fire_2010

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As a tax attorney going to bat for the average American taxpayer who finds him or herself behind on their taxes, unable to pay their taxes or facing other IRS issues, I can tell you that most of my clients experience deep feelings of fear and shame at not being able to meet their tax responsibilities.  They typically get into tax trouble due to job loss, illness and other types of losses.  They do not have deep pockets and they do their best to live their lives responsibly.

So, when I see multinational corporations like British Petroleum (BP) being granted billions of dollars of tax write-offs for being grossly negligent, responsible for the death of workers and the devastation of the Gulf Coast, I am more inspired to help the underdog.

It was recently announced that BP is being allowed to claim a $15.3 billion tax write off of the $20.8 billion settlement for the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. According to the article I read in Accounting Today, “BP was found to be grossly negligent in the Deepwater Horizon case, and yet the vast majority of what they are paying to make up for their gross negligence is legally considered just business as usual under the tax code unless the Department Of Justice explicitly prohibits a write-off.” This comes from Michelle Surka, a program associate with U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG). She added, “This not only sends the wrong message, but it also hurts taxpayers by forcing us to shoulder the burden of BP’s tax windfall in the form of higher taxes, cuts to public programs, and more national debt.” 

It’s interesting that a payment meant to be restitution for grossly negligent death and destruction is now considered “business as usual.”  We live in interesting times.

 

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