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Several U.S. shipowners have mounted a new campaign to get tax breaks from Uncle Sam. Although they failed this summer to get those breaks included in Clinton's new budget package, they are planning to try again later this year.
Leading the charge is New York-based Overseas Shipholding Group, one of the country's largest owners of oil tankers. Joining OSG in the effort are OMI Corp. and International Shipholding Corp., both of which are similar to OSG in that they own U.S.-flag and flag-of-convenience ships.
Standing quietly behind these three shipowners are large oil companies like Chevron, Exxon and Texaco that operate their own tanker fleets under a variety of flags.
Also behind the effort is the powerful Washington lobbying firm of Patton, Boggs & Blow, which is being paid by OSG to influence the lawmakers.
The shipowners are seeking the restoration of corporate income tax deferrals they enjoyed until 1986, when the tax reform bill of that year stripped out the deferral.
Known as Subpart F, the provision allowed U.S. companies with foreign subsidiaries to pay no taxes on foreign profits as long as those profits were not repatriated back to the American company. The deferral was particularly valued by the large oil companies that maintain large fleets of tankers under flags of convenience.
Attempts since 1986 to restore the deferral were directed by the Federation of American-controlled Shipping (FACS), a trade group largely financed by big, …