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Senate Democrats Propose Banning Anti-Union Tax Write-Offs

May 12, 2022, 3:15 PM

Senate Democrats are taking aim at companies that oppose worker organizing efforts, unveiling legislation that would ban tax deductions for anti-union activities.

Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) was joined by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) in introducing a bill known as the No Tax Breaks for Union Busting Act. The bill would propose that employer spending on anti-union activities qualifies as political speech under the tax code, barring companies from deducting the costs on their taxes.

Casey at a Thursday press event said the tax code is being “undermined” by companies subsidizing their anti-union activity. Van Hollen and Wyden also attended the presser.

“Hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent every year busting unions, and they spend all of those hundreds of millions, and then they get a tax break from our tax code,” the Pennsylvania Democrat said.

The bill would ban deductions of both legal and illegal anti-union activities, according to a summary of the bill. Illegal activities include violations of the National Labor Relations Act, while legal efforts include “captive audience meetings” and anti-union advertising campaigns.

“The fact is, anti-union speech is political speech, and any political speech is not tax deductible,” Oregon’s Wyden said. “We are very much in line with precedent and history.”

The bill would also require companies to report intervention in protected labor activities to the US Internal Revenue Service.

Van Hollen cited data from a 2019 Economic Policy Institute report that found employer spending on anti-union consultants could be as much as $340 million annually. Neither Casey nor Van Hollen were aware of data that tracks how much companies subsidize of their anti-union spending costs.

The bill has no Republican co-sponsors at this time.

“I hope Republicans will look at this through the lens of what is best for the workplace,” Casey said. “Organizing is good for the economy.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Paige Smith in Washington at psmith@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Genevieve Douglas at gdouglas@bloomberglaw.com; Andrew Harris at aharris@bloomberglaw.com

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