AUGUSTA — A measure to prevent multinational corporations from evading Maine taxes by hiding profits in offshore tax havens won initial approval in the state’s Democratic-controlled House of Representatives on Thursday on an 81-67, party-line vote.

The bill, LD 341, sponsored by state Rep. Ryan Tipping-Spitz, D-Orono, requires Maine companies to report any income from a list of countries known for being offshore tax havens, including Liechtenstein, Bahrain, Luxembourg and Monaco.

“The accounting gimmicks used by these multinational corporations are shorting Maine an estimated $10 million each budget cycle,” said Rep. Ryan Tipping-Spitz, D-Orono, the bill’s sponsor. “These huge corporations make use of Maine’s infrastructure, public services and workforce but avoid paying their fair share. Their practices stick local Maine families and small businesses with the tab.”

Maine loses $10 million in each two-year budget cycle to companies sheltering income offshore, according to an estimate made by the Legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal and Program Review and Maine Revenue Services. 

Five other states and the District of Columbia have adopted laws similar to Tipping-Sptiz’s bill.

Republicans, who voted against the bill, said the measure was a law that the state had no means to enforce. Others states that have tried have been largely unsuccessful, said state Rep. Jeff Timberlake, R-Turner.

“You can pass all the laws you want, but if the state has no way to enforce it, what’s the point?” asked Timberlake, who voted against the bill.

The bill will face additional votes in the Legislature, including in the Republican-controlled Senate, where it will likely face stiff opposition.

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