End Subsidized Pay for Fast Food CEOs

baconator with fries

Target: Harry Reid, United States Senate Majority Leader

Goal: End unlimited tax deduction for fast food CEO performance pay

What do Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Brands, Burger King, Domino’s and Yum! Brands have in common? These six largest publicly-held fast food chains reduced their tax bills by more than $64 million in 2011-2012. They did this by fully deducting a combined total of more than $183 million in CEO “performance pay,” typically a mix of stock options, gains, and bonuses.

A report titled “Fast Food CEOs Rake in Taxpayer-Subsidized Pay” shed light on this loophole. Take for example Yum! Brands CEO David Novak, who received a whopping $94 million in performance pay in 2011-2012. All of this was 100% tax deductible for the company, which owns the Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC chains. This tax deduction saved Yum! Brands $33 million dollars: money that could have paid for schools, roads, public health and other services.

This is in stark contrast to the traditionally low wages paid to fast food employees. A study by the University of California-Berkeley found that “more than half of front-line fast food workers rely on at least one public assistance program–at a cost of nearly $7 billion per year.” More than ever in these tough economic times, taxpayers are fed up with subsidies for big business. Tell the Senate that the performance pay deduction has to go!


Dear Harry Reid, United States Senate Majority Leader,

The Senate has its share of challenges, seeking to reduce the federal deficit while maintaining essential services. In light of this, I urge you to push for an end to the performance pay tax deduction. In 2011-2012 alone, six major fast food chains paid their CEOs more than $183 million in tax-deductible performance pay–stocks options, gains, and bonuses–thus saving themselves $64 million in taxes.

Wages, benefits, and work hour guarantees for front-line fast food workers remain so low that half these employees depend on some form of public assistance. Essentially, the performance pay deduction allows companies to shift the burden of employees’ social welfare on to taxpayers. What’s worse, taxes are disproportionately paid by lower-income Americans, demonstrating yet another transfer of wealth in the midst of the Great Recession. And this is unacceptable.

Demonstrate your Senate leadership, and your commitment to working class Americans, by bringing forward legislation to end the performance pay deduction now.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Lenin and McCarthy via Wikimedia

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