June 13,2019

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Wyden Bill Would End Tax Breaks for Private Prison Companies

Companies that profit from detaining immigrants would pay taxes like other corporations

Washington, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today introduced legislation to end tax breaks for companies that run prisons and immigrant detention centers.

“The private prison industry is booming, particularly with the Trump administration holding more immigrants in detention than any time over nearly the past 20 years. Companies that profit off of putting children in cages shouldn’t get tax breaks,” Wyden said. “My proposal is simple. Companies that make money from the Trump administration’s inhumane immigration policy and a criminal justice system that disproportionately imprisons people of color are going to pay taxes like any other corporation.”

Companies that run prisons and immigrant detention centers, including CoreCivic and GEO Group, are organized as Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), which do not pay corporate tax on gains from real estate holdings. For example, profits from rent paid by the federal government for space to detain undocumented immigrants escape corporate level tax.

Wyden’s legislation would bar companies that run prisons and immigrant detention centers from receiving REIT status and require them to pay tax at the corporate and shareholder level, just like any other C corporation.

Text of the legislation is available here.