Many US government purchasing codes have requirements or preferences for the purchase of goods made in America. The "Buy American" movement accelerated in the mid 1980's and was essentially based on two premises: preserve American jobs, and support businesses that are part of the community.

The idea that these businesses are contributing parts of the local community is an important one. These businesses not only provide jobs, but contribute to the tax rolls, paying their fair share of the cost of local infrastructure.

So how should government entities treat businesses which do not pay their fair share of taxes? This question is not focused on loopholes within the US tax code which any individual or business can utilize to their advantage. The system as currently designed by Congress, with the help of numerous lobbyists, (a discussion for another column) is the law of the land, and therefore fair game.

The growing problem is those companies which utilize the process of "inversion" to avoid paying US taxes. Inversion can be accomplished by moving the corporate headquarters out of the US, or merging with another company that has headquarters outside the US. It is one easy way US companies maintain their profits overseas.

These tax dodges have serious implications. One review estimated that over $2 trillion in US Corporate profits are being "held" outside US territory as a means of tax evasion. Lost tax revenues will have to be made up by US taxpayers, now forced to pay more than their fair share.

Companies are open about their goal of avoiding US taxes. According to a Wall Street Journal story, Cleveland-based Eaton Corporation acquired a smaller company which had offices in Ireland, and moved its place of incorporation to the office of an Irish law firm in Dublin. They told analysts that the "move" would save $160 million in taxes.

You may not have heard of Eaton Corporation, but the list of companies moving profits off-shore includes many familiar names: Apple, Medtronic, Citigroup, Halliburton, GE and Microsoft are among the better-known companies which employ various strategies to keep US based profits outside of the US.

At the same time, these companies benefit from access to large American consumer markets, government support of research and development costs, and an educated workforce. More directly, these companies utilize basic infrastructure and resources which are designed to be maintained and improved by the very taxes they are dodging. Consider the impact of just a portion of these lost resources on our inventory of structurally deficient bridges, or the sad irony of insufficient resources available for veterans because Halliburton won't pay its fair share.

Whether you believe we are over-taxed or not, the basis of the system is fairly simple. Taxation provides a mechanism for members of the community to assume the fiscal responsibilities that make a community sustainable. Infrastructure, education, and public safety, are the hallmarks of a functional society, which works when everyone shares in the costs and the benefits. We demand that our government go after individuals and businesses that do not pay their taxes. What is the appropriate response for companies which choose to remove themselves from the social compact?

Perhaps it is time for governments at all levels to review their procurement rules once again, and refuse to purchase products and services from those companies who opt out of the value system that maintains our communities. Maybe it is time for a revised version of the Buy American movement - a "Support American Communities" approach to the expenditure of tax dollars.