Verizon fires back at allegations of dodging taxes as nearly 40,000 workers prepare to strike

Verizon fired back at Bernie Sanders' claims it doesn't pay its fair share of taxes, heightening tensions between the nation's largest carrier and some 40,000 of its workers preparing to strike on Wednesday.

The Sanders campaign recently ranked Verizon third on a list of "America's Top Ten Corporate Tax Avoiders," saying the company made more than $42.4 billion in U.S. profits from 2008 to 2013 but received a tax refund from the IRS of $732 million. The Democratic presidential candidate targeted Verizon again at a speech Monday night in Buffalo, citing the potential strike and claiming that Verizon has made billions in profits over the years "but in a given year has not paid a nickel in taxes."

The Sanders team also said Verizon "stashed $1.8 billion in offshore tax havens to avoid paying U.S. income taxes," and would owe an additional $630 million in federal income taxes if not for that strategy.

"Sen. Sanders is dead wrong on this issue," the operator said, reposting a February statement from Mark Mullet, the company's vice president of federal government relations.

"Let's set the record straight: Verizon complies with all tax laws and pays the taxes it owes under the law," Mullet wrote. "In 2015, that amounted to $8.445 billion. That's $5.293 billion in income taxes (net amount of any refunds the company received); $1.284 billion in employment taxes related to its 177,700 employees, and $1.868 billion in property and other taxes."

The operator paid $7.18 billion in 2014, Mullet added.

Mullet went on to claim that the U.S. corporate tax rate is the highest in the world, "but there are too many loopholes." Not only are those loopholes counterproductive, he said, they result in an uncompetitive landscape for U.S. companies hoping to compete worldwide."

The spat between the two sides comes as 40,000 Verizon workers were preparing to strike early Wednesday morning.

"Even though Verizon made $39 billion in profits over the last three years – and $1.8 billion a month in profits over the first three months of 2016 – the company wants to gut job security protections, contract out more work, offshore jobs to Mexico, the Philippines and other locations and require technicians to work away from home for as long as two months without seeing their families," the Communications Workers of America said Monday in a press release. "Verizon is also refusing to negotiate any improvements in wages, benefits or working conditions for Verizon Wireless retail workers, who formed a union in 2014."

The walkout would reportedly be the largest U.S. work stoppage since 2011.

For more:
- see this Verizon blog post

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