New tax transparency bill would allow public to see which billion-dollar corporations pay no state income taxes

Tennesseans deserve to know which companies pay their fair share, lawmakers say

Tennessee Senate Democrats
3 min readMar 3, 2023

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NASHVILLE — After a report showing that 27 percent of billion-dollar companies in Tennessee pay no state income taxes, Sen. Heidi Campbell and Rep. John Ray Clemmons have filed legislation to advance corporate tax transparency.

“When big corporations don’t pay their fair share, our families suffer with underfunded schools, crumbling roads and bridges, and inadequate public services,” said Sen. Heidi Campbell, sponsor of Senate Bill 1009. “And when state revenues fail to fund our families, students and roads, property owners are stuck making up the difference through local property tax hikes.

“At the very least, Tennesseans deserve to know which companies are paying taxes and which ones are not,” Sen. Campbell said.

Senate Bill 1009 is scheduled for introduction in the Senate Revenue Subcommittee on Tuesday, March 7.

In 2022, the Economic Policy Institute published a report showing that more than 60 percent of all corporations in Tennessee, including 27 percent of all billion-dollar firms, pay nothing in state income taxes.

Under current state law, the tax bills paid, or not, by big corporations are shielded from the public, making it impossible, lawmakers say, to know if the tax code is incentivizing tax avoidance or creating good jobs.

“From Memphis to Bristol, working families are paying their fair share with one of the highest sales tax rates in the country while more than half of the corporations in Tennessee are paying nothing at all,” said Rep. John Ray Clemmons, the House bill’s sponsor. “With more transparency in our business tax code, everyone could see which laws are working to boost good jobs and what’s functioning as a loophole to boost corporate profits.”

If enacted, Senate Bill 1009 would repeal the tax shield and give Tennesseans the ability to see tax bills paid by companies.

In the last fiscal year, three combined business taxes — franchise, excise and business — accounted for 23 percent of all state revenues. Taxes paid by families, primarily the sales tax and grocery tax, accounted for 61 percent of all tax collections.

In his state of the state speech, Gov. Bill Lee proposed permanent cuts to corporate taxes while only offering families a longer sales tax holiday on groceries.

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Tennessee Senate Democrats

Fighting for everyday people in the Tennessee General Assembly