One Step Closer to Ending Prison Tax Breaks

The Portland Prison Divestment Coalition delivers 750+ signatures to Senator Ron Wyden’s Portland office in April (photo: Doug Yarrow)

Week of Action moves Senator Ron Wyden, a key national ally for Ending Prison Tax Breaks

In April, the Prison Divestment Coalition held actions in over a dozen cities nationwide calling to End Prison Tax Breaks. Thousands participated in teach-ins, street canvasses, and social media blitzes to raise awareness of the $113 million in taxes that prison corporations evaded just in 2015.

Prison Corporations not only lobby for and profit from state dollars pouring into incarceration and immigrant detention, but since 2013, they are doing this tax-free thanks to their inappropriate qualification as Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs).

Our online and street petitions got over 5,000 signatures (you can still sign the petition here) and in Portland, Oregon, a delegation of prison divestment organizers delivered these signatures directly to the office of Senator Ron Wyden.

Senator Wyden is very powerful when it comes to tax law, budgeting, and finance. He is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee and Joint Tax Committee, meaning that if somebody has the power and connections to Revoke REIT and end the prison tax breaks, it’s him.

The Portland delegation was well-received by the Senator’s staff, and a multi-racial, multi-sector coalition including Enlace, Voz: Workers Rights Education Project, Portland NAACP, SEIU, Unite Oregon, and PFLAG Black Chapter have since been in regular meetings with Wyden’s top tax policy advisors and DC staff. In our second meeting, we learned that Senator Wyden is now opposed to the existence of private prisons, and wants to work with us to move forward a strategy to Revoke REIT status for prisons, and weaken the industry overall.

This is great news, and we are hopeful that with all of you, we can Revoke REIT, and further weaken one of the drivers of mass incarceration and immigrant detention.

If your Senator is part of the Senate Finance Committee, please take 2 minutes to send your message today expressing your support for Ending Prison Tax Breaks. (If you are unsure whether your Senator is part of Finance, you can follow the link to find out.)

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