Left pushes to trim JPMorgan tax breaks on settlement

Liberal advocacy groups are mounting pressure on the Justice Department to bar JPMorgan from deducting from the bank’s taxes any portion of a broad government settlement in the works.

The reportedly $13 billion settlement over the bank’s mortgage activities before the financial crisis, which is still being hammered out, would be the largest such settlement in U.S. history. But reports that JPMorgan is seeking use up to $4 billion of the settlement as a tax write-off has led to protests from liberal groups and lawmakers.

On Monday, two groups delivered over 160,000 petitions to the Justice Department calling for barring any potential tax benefit. The groups, U.S. PIRG and Americans for Tax Fairness, argue it is patently unfair for taxpayers to help subsidize JPMorgan’s fines through the tax code.

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“The American people were already victimized once by Wall Street’s malfeasance. They should not be victimized again by having to pick up more of the tab,” said Frank Clemente, campaign manager for Americans for Tax Fairness. “The Obama administration should be helping homeowners with underwater mortgages, not be giving tax breaks to the banks that put them there.”

 The potential tax perk has also attracted attention on Capitol Hill. Five U.S. senators wrote to Attorney General Eric HolderEric H. HolderUber taps Eric Holder to investigate sexual harassment claims Ellison needles Perez for 'unverifiable' claim of DNC support With party in trouble, Dems hit voting laws MORE Tuesday, urging him to explicitly prevent any tax writeoffs under the settlement. That letter was signed by Sens. Mazie HironoMazie HironoSenate Dems move to nix Trump's deportation order Warren: GOP ramming DeVos 'down the throats of the American people' Dems delay Sessions vote MORE (Hawaii), Bill NelsonBill NelsonSenate advances Trump's Commerce pick CMS nominee breezes through confirmation hearing Net neutrality fix faces hard sell MORE (Fla.), Martin HeinrichMartin HeinrichDem senator calls out Trump for leaving key to apparent classified info exposed Trump’s pick for CIA No. 2 prompts Dem fears Intel Committee Dems to Trump: Read torture report MORE (N.M.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehousePruitt confirmation sets stage for Trump EPA assault Senate Dems ask DHS inspector general for probe of Trump’s business arrangement Senate confirms Pruitt to lead EPA MORE (R.I.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenDeVos should ‘persist’ despite liberal opposition AT&T, Time Warner defend deal Scott Brown being considered for ambassador to New Zealand: report MORE (Mass.).

In the House, Reps. Peter WelchPeter WelchGot soy milk? Don't let Congress, dairy industry bogart 'milk' label Dems on Flynn: 'This is just the beginning' Overnight Defense: Pentagon chief working to exempt Iraqis from Trump order MORE (D-Vt.) and Luis GutierrezLuis GutierrezDems: White House canceled ICE immigration meeting ICE head cancels meeting with Hispanic Dems Hispanics are split in DNC race MORE (D-Ill.) introducing legislation barring companies from using the tax code to deduct costs from government settlements, and Welch also sent a letter to the bank’s chief executive, Jamie Dimon, urging him to avoid the writeoff.

While the bulk of the settlement is still being finalized, the Federal Housing Finance Agency announced in October it had struck a $4 billion settlement with the bank, after it charged JPMorgan broke securities laws when it sold securities loaded with risky mortgages to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.