The Michigan Democrat, who announced last month that he'll forego a run for a seventh six-year term in 2014 to focus on the nation's problems, says offshore tax-dodging by the biggest corporations is on that list.
Offshore tax loopholes used by corporations costs the individual Michigan taxpayer $674 and small business taxpayer $2,108, Levin said Thursday, referring to an annual report released by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.
The report, titled "Picking Up The Tab," claims that offshoring by the country's largest corporations costs taxpayers $150 billion a year that could be used to reduce the federal deficit.
Named in the report are household names like Google, Microsoft, Pfizer, Caterpillar, Citigroup, Bank of America and General Electric.
Even if legal, PIRG claims U.S. taxpayers have to pick up the tax burden when corporations use offshore havens to lower their tax bills.
In that claim, they have an ally in Levin, who continues to push for closing tax avoidance loopholes used by corporations offshoring cash.
"It's more and more clear that we simply cannot afford the loss of hundreds of billions of dollars to these egregious tax loopholes," Levin said by phone with representatives from PIRG Thursday.
"Corporate profits, while they're at an all-time high, which is 14 percent plus of their income, it's the largest share at any time since 1950," Levin said. "Individuals have the smallest share of income gains in nearly 50 years. In fact, middle income folks have lost ground."
Levin claims the average U.S. corporation has a real tax rate of about 12 percent even though the top corporate tax rate is 35 percent.
He cited an unnamed study that said 30 of the country's largest corporations with combined profits of more than $160 billion paid no income taxes for the years 2008 to 2011.
"It's time to close the loopholes to reduce the deficit ... and to bring some fairness back to the tax code," Levin said.
Levin proposed an amendment to a recent deal reached on the federal budget in the U.S. Senate to give federal budget writers the authority to end offshore tax strategies used by large corporations.
But a weaker amendment was included to give budget writers the option of clamping down on offshore tax havens as part of broader tax reform, says the Public Interest Research Group in Michigan.
Levin has tended to be one of the Senate's more liberal members during his lengthy tenure, and he has more than once called for an end to corporate tax loopholes.
The latest push with PIRG comes as unemployment remains stubbornly high, as corporations report large profits that have sent the stock market on a bull run since the first of the year, and as Congress struggles to break a partisan stalemate over federal deficit reduction.
In Michigan, Levin’s departure from the U.S. Senate at the end of 2014 sets up a political battle for his seat, and Republicans and Democrats are both testing the waters to see if they can win the seat.