Senate

Top Senate Democrats mull bill to nix credits for companies paying Russian taxes

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) is seen during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee nomination hearing on Tuesday, October 19, 2021.
Greg Nash

Two top Senate Democrats said Thursday they are mulling legislation to nix the credits American companies currently get for paying taxes in Russia, after Koch Industries said it would continue its operations in the country.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said that they were “exploring legislation” to eliminate the tax credits that U.S. companies get for paying taxes in Russia, which would put Russia on a list with Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.

“Senate Democrats are exploring legislation to add Russia to existing laws that already deny foreign tax credits for taxes paid to North Korea and Syria. American companies that continue to do business in Russia should not receive U.S. tax benefits that offset taxes paid to Putin’s regime,” the two Democrats said in a joint statement. 

Dave Robertson, president and COO of Koch Industries, released a statement Wednesday explaining the company’s decision and its business ties in Russia, while noting they would also comply with applicable sanctions.

Koch owns a company called Guardian Industries that will continue its operations in Russia as it employs 600 people across two glass manufacturing facilities. Outside of that company, Koch Industries employs another 15 people in Russia.

Robertson said the multinational corporation denounced the “horrific and abhorrent aggression against Ukraine,” but that they would not “walk away from our employees there or hand over these manufacturing facilities to the Russian government so it can operate and benefit from them.”

Robertson, in his statement, pointed to a Wall Street Journal article reporting that Russia could seize assets of companies that have pulled their business operations in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Roughly 400 companies have withdrawn or suspended their operations in Russia, according to a list spearheaded by the Yale Chief Executive Leadership Institute’s Jeffrey Sonnenfeld.

Schumer and Wyden knocked Koch Industries for its decision, asserting the “noxious stench of Trump still hangs over Koch industries” and it “continues to profit off of Putin’s regime.” 

It is time for Koch Industries to put the values of democracy ahead of its own profits. We are calling on Koch Industries to immediately suspend their operations in Russia,” they added.

The statement from Koch Industries, and the pushback from the top Senate Democrats, comes after Wyden said last week that he was working on a plan to penalize Moscow and Russians who have been hit with sanctions and who have assets in the United States.

Wyden also floated at the time nixing U.S. tax credits and deductions for taxes paid to Russia, saying that “Russian oligarchs and companies supporting Putin shouldn’t be getting tax breaks in the United States.”

Tags Charles Schumer Ron Wyden

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