The Strategist

$700 bln of US taxes are hid in offshores

10/05/2016 - 13:39

US PIRG Education Fund and Citizens for Tax Justice consumer group published a new research. The paper shows that the vast majority of the largest corporations in the United States hold a portion of their assets in offshore locations. The document’s authors believe that the US budget has missed more than $ 718 billion in tax revenues due to this practice.

Phillip Ingham
Phillip Ingham
The study reports that 367 of the Fortune 500 largest US companies have one or more subsidiaries in offshore jurisdictions. In total, there are such units 10 366. According to the researchers, the Netherlands are the most popular tax haven for US companies. More than half of them have subsidiaries in this country. Next in popularity are Cayman Islands and Bermuda. 58% of companies have offices in these jurisdictions.

Apple company is leading by money resources registered in jurisdictions with preferential tax treatment ($ 215 billion). The researchers estimate if the money was transferred in the US, the company would have paid $ 65 billion of taxes. Another corporation with considerable sums in offshore is Citigroup financial services company. The authors claim that amount of these funds is $ 45 billion, that is to say, $ 12.7 billion in taxes. There are other well-known companies, too: Pfizer ($ 193 billion), PepsiCo ($ 40 billion), Goldman Sachs ($ 28,6 billion), Google ($ 58 billion). Altogether, there are $ 2.5 trillion held in offshores, so American budget has missed $ 718 billion of taxes.

Researchers believe that the US authorities should pay attention to results of the report, and do everything to get the budget shortfall. To this end, they call on lawmakers to not only correct gaps in tax laws and tougher penalties for corporations, but also to stimulate business to refuse the very idea of holding money in offshore zones. In addition, the researchers believe that it is necessary to increase transparency of companies. Precisely, this means submitting full reports on abroad subsidiaries, indicating funds, number of employees, assets and tax rates in these jurisdictions.

The Panama papers scandal happened six months ago, yet the world is still agitated with the problem of money hid in offshores. Earlier in September, an international consortium of investigative journalists, which includes Belgian media Le Soir, De Tijd, Knack, opened a new bunch of offshore companies, now in the Bahamas.

Within a new investigation called Bahamas Leaks, Belgian publications identified 116 offshore companies associated with Belgium. They are owned or operated by 92 Belgians or foreigners who settled in Belgium. Of these, 54 continued to perform its function after 2011, according to Le Soir.

Journalists have found traces of Belgian-French banking group Dexia's, which name has already sounded in connection with "Panamanian documents", and Belgian state-owned company BIO, engaged in investment in developing countries.

Earlier, the same investigation stated that former deputy chairman of the European Commission Neelie Kroes had managed an offshore company registered in the Bahamas since July 4, 2000 to October 1, 2009. The journalists noted that the very fact of managing such a company is not illegal as long as the organization’s activities abide the law.

Kroes, however, violated regulations of the European Commission. EU rules require that all European commissioners have to declare if they worked as managers, administrators, or advisers over last ten years prior to taking office in the EU institutions. Kroes did not mention her role in Bahamian company Mint Holdings Ltd in a declaration of conflict of interest. 


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