Bill requiring cruise lines to pay more taxes is in the works

By Bill Poling
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, said on Wednesday that he intends to introduce legislation to close the “loophole” that exempts foreign-flagged cruise lines from U.S. corporate income taxes.

He made the statement in closing remarks, as he brought the gavel down on a two-hour oversight hearing.

The cruise industry’s unique tax status was not otherwise part of the dialog at the hearing, which centered on consumer protection and safety issues relating to the Cruise Passenger Protection Act of 2013, which Rockefeller introduced earlier this week.

Addressing witnesses Adam Goldstein and Gerry Cahill, CEOs of Royal Caribbean International and Carnival Cruise Lines, respectively, Rockefeller said at the close of the session that his staff reviewed their financial reports for the past seven years and concluded that their parent companies reported cumulative profits of $17 billion and only $218 million in federal income tax.

He said he’s been working with the Senate’s tax-writing committees and would introduce a bill by the end of the week.

The hearing produced at least one other surprise disclosure when Goldstein, during a discussion of the reporting regime for onboard crime, said the three major cruise companies would begin to make all reports public online by Aug. 1, voluntarily going beyond the legal requirement that they report only cases that the FBI considers closed.
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