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The Almighty Buck Businesses

GAO Reports Bailout and Tech Firms Love Tax Havens 347

Posted by kdawson
from the how-to-spell-profit dept.
theodp writes "Most of America's largest publicly traded corporations and Federal contractors — including those receiving billions of dollars from US taxpayers to finance their recovery — have set up offshore operations that could help them avoid paying US taxes, according to a GAO study released yesterday. Of the 100 largest public companies, 83 do business in tax-haven hot-spots like the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, and the British Virgin Islands. The report found that Citigroup, a recipient of $45B in bailout funds so far, has set up 427 subsidiaries in tax-haven countries, including 91 in Luxembourg, 90 in the Cayman Islands, and 35 in the British Virgin Islands. Household names on the lists from the tech sector include Apple (1 tax haven subsidiary), Cisco (38), Dell (29), HP (14), Intel (6), IBM (10), Microsoft (8), Motorola (4), and Oracle (77)."
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GAO Reports Bailout and Tech Firms Love Tax Havens

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  • Off with her head! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ostracus (1354233) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @03:29PM (#26499703) Journal

    Isn't the way this worded presuming guilt before innocence? Is doing business in a tax-haven country an automatic fail?

    • Yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by copponex (13876) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @03:45PM (#26499827) Homepage

      I really get frustrated when doublespeak is acceptable. It's like the question, "Are prisoners in Guantanamo being tortured?" If they weren't being tortured, they would be in New York state, sitting in the same jail cells we use for other suspected murderers. The fact that anyone is asking the question is mind-boggling.

      Similarly, any company that sets up in a small country that they do no business in is obviously up to something. Otherwise they wouldn't be there.

      American business is a game, where the winners are those who best exploit their workers, the tax code, government contracts, and the environment. The most important bit is not getting caught, and having a lot of lawyers if you do.

      (I'd like to defuse any rebuttal by saying "Wal-Mart.")

      • Re:Yes. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by digitalunity (19107) <digitalunity&yahoo,com> on Saturday January 17, 2009 @03:51PM (#26499877) Homepage

        Wal-mart is a funny example. They do a lot of things right(warehousing, distribution, workers safety) but they also screw their employees badly and are destructive to small town economies.

        As for these companies that just got big bailouts, well, I really wish the feds would just take all the money back and we can all roll on the floor laughing at them for it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by aliquis (678370)

          I don't understand why you try to save them. Is it to save jobs or what?

          The money could be used to support the people who got unemployed but more importantly people still have demands for the products the companies used to create so there would be a gap for new companies manufacturing those products. So if for instance all your car companies died I assume there would be new people willing to take their place and create a new industry.

          I understand that some knowledge and ideas would get lost if something lik

      • Re:Yes. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by russotto (537200) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @04:02PM (#26499973) Journal

        It's like the question, "Are prisoners in Guantanamo being tortured?" If they weren't being tortured, they would be in New York state, sitting in the same jail cells we use for other suspected murderers.

        Err, no. The main reason they are held in Guantanemo was for a jurisdictional dodge about holding them at all. One that didn't work out, as it turns out; the courts didn't buy the idea that they were beyond the reach of US courts just because they weren't within the boundaries of the United States.

        Similarly, any company that sets up in a small country that they do no business in is obviously up to something. Otherwise they wouldn't be there.

        Nothing in this report says the companies do no business in the "tax haven" countries. Apple originally set up in Ireland to make Powerbooks, as I recall. They don't do manufacturing there any more but it's still their European headquarters. Coke and Pepsi almost certainly sell sugar water in all those tax haven jurisdictions. Intel does manufacturing in Costa Rica.

        Multinationals are, well, multinational. It's hardly a surprise when they do business in companies the IRS or GAO isn't fond of, whether that's why they do it (which it probably is, in many cases) or not.

        Anyway, one of the definitions for the countries on this list was "...jurisdictions that have a high level of nonresident financial activity, and may have characteristics including low or no taxes, light and flexible regulation, and a high level of client confidentiality. " Horrors. Why would a country ever want to do that?

        • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by truthsearch (249536) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @04:14PM (#26500069) Homepage Journal

          I guess you haven't heard of many of the "offices" in the Cayman Islands consisting of one room, one phone, and one employee (never at his desk). Many exist purely to claim business in the country and filter money for tax purposes. They do no business there at all but save taxes.

          Of course, this isn't every office or company. But many.

          • Just like those accountants.. never doing any real work, just saving money!

          • by megaditto (982598)

            I am just curious, what is it you think they do with their tax-free money?

            • by Anpheus (908711)

              Make more money, duh. Why are you even bothering to ask that question?

              What would you do if I told you I could halve your income tax? Exactly what you were doing before, except you'd have -more money-. It's a lot easier to set up a bunch of legal entities to do this than to actually move you physically to Luxembourg though.

        • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Informative)

          by Achromatic1978 (916097) <robert@@@chromablue...net> on Saturday January 17, 2009 @04:22PM (#26500117)

          Nothing in this report says the companies do no business in the "tax haven" countries.

          So, in other words, you didn't actually read the report. Just skimmed through, and then immediately jumped on Slashdot to slap someone down. From said report:

          The GAO found 17 companies with no business in tax-haven locales, including Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, United Parcel Service, Verizon, Lockheed Martin and Northrup Grumman.

          • by wol (10606)

            You need to actually pull apart the tax haven non-operations stuff from the tax haven real live operations stuff.

            While some of them have subsidiaries located in the tax haven countries, but the subsidiaries have no offices, others have real live businesses there. Cisco, the one company I happen to know something about, actually has offices and sales people in every single "tax haven" country listed.

        • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Informative)

          by TubeSteak (669689) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @04:30PM (#26500211) Journal

          Nothing in this report says the companies do no business in the "tax haven" countries. Apple originally set up in Ireland to make Powerbooks, as I recall. They don't do manufacturing there any more but it's still their European headquarters.

          LoL

          Ireland has veeeeery friendly tax laws and is a prime example of a Country where individuals and corporations send money to dodge US taxes. Part of the reason so many individuals and businesses setup their tax shelters in Ireland is specifically because Ireland does not have the public perception of being a tax haven.

          The only reason Ireland (as a member of the EU) can do this is because EU law only prevents countries that meet the 'EU economic norm' from playing such games with tax law. Once Ireland develops, those convenient tax laws will have to be changed.

          • Ireland's taxes are lower than most of the rest of the EU, so it makes sense for any company doing pan-EU business to be based there. It also has had a number of years where it was a cheap place to get labor, and had workers that were educated and spoke English, though there's recently been a lot of business moving to Eastern Europe, especially Poland, where the labor's cheaper.

        • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by postbigbang (761081) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @04:43PM (#26500343)

          Apple setup in Ireland to appease an EU mandate regarding labor content in their products. This sort of thing was also done by the US to Japanese TV manufacturers. It's a time-honored way to get manufacturers to spend a little money in the country they're selling into-- to avoid getting hit with taxes and duties.

          However, very little manufacturing goes on in the Caymans, the BWI, and Luxembourg. They're tax havens, just like Cheney's Halliburton likes to use. Getting back that revenue would mean the end of corporate welfare, and that's unlikely to happen soon.

          So call a shovel a spade and don't weasel word about the implications.

        • by copponex (13876) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @05:29PM (#26500711) Homepage

          Err, no. The main reason they are held in Guantanemo was for a jurisdictional dodge about holding them at all. One that didn't work out, as it turns out; the courts didn't buy the idea that they were beyond the reach of US courts just because they weren't within the boundaries of the United States.

          Nope.

          http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/17/opinion/17davis.html?_r=1&ex=1360990800&en=a3b1d35d17a4d480&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss&pagewanted=all [nytimes.com]

          My policy as the chief prosecutor for the military commissions at Guantanamo was that evidence derived through waterboarding was off limits. That should still be our policy. To do otherwise is not only an affront to American justice, it will potentially put prosecutors at risk for using illegally obtained evidence.

          Emphasis mine.

          Nothing in this report says the companies do no business in the "tax haven" countries.

          Sure. If I posited the same argument that a person who fit the profile of a crack dealer was passing "something" to someone in a car after exchanging money, you'd be the first in line to throw him into prison. I'm not saying they don't deserve due process, but a judicial branch that wasn't a secretarial service for corporate America would at least investigate.

          Horrors. Why would a country ever want to do that?

          I'm not blaming the country, or claiming the corporations are automatically guilty. When they do business that removes tax money from the community that built it's wealth, I consider that a worse offense than someone who is falsely collecting welfare.

          I'm upset with the habit of Americans getting upset over social welfare and not over corporate welfare. When corporations have more rights than an individual person, not even equal rights, I consider that to be reprehensible. I can't buy a palm tree in Costa Rica and reduce my tax liability as an individual, but I could if I formed an LLC. In my opinion, that's bullshit.

    • by metamatic (202216)

      There's nothing illegal about doing business overseas, so long as you declare all of the income to the US IRS and pay US taxes on it. (You're allowed to deduct any overseas taxes you've already paid.)

      However, I strongly suspect that if these companies were going to be declaring all the income to the US government, there wouldn't be any point in their having set up overseas shell companies.

      It's kinda like seeing someone break into a house through a window. Sure, it could be his house, but if it was, wouldn't

      • Your suspicion in this case is off the mark. In the case of the major US multinationals, the reason they setup these overseas shell companies is not to illegally avoid reporting income, but rather (among other reasons) to avoid having a legal obligation to pay taxes on things done abroad.

  • Tax policy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by XanC (644172) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @03:30PM (#26499705)

    Maybe if the US tax policy wasn't insanely out of line with the rest of the world, we wouldn't have this problem. Can you blame these companies for getting away?

    Other countries charge income tax based on income earned in that country. The US charges income tax for income earned in any country. Where would you set up your company?

    The FairTax [fairtax.org] would instantly make the US the world's tax haven.

    • Re:Tax policy (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Carewolf (581105) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @03:39PM (#26499779) Homepage

      Don't kid yourself, large US based companies doesn't pay tax either. Tax heavens are just an easier way to avoid paying tax, it is saving the companies money on the payroll to accountants and number magicians, but no not on the tax bill. Only people and small companies pay tax.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by ChienAndalu (1293930)

        Maybe you are kidding yourself? Data from the IRS [taxfoundation.org] say that in 2006, the top 1% contributed 40% of the tax income and the top 5% paid 60%.

        Which explains why they want to go somewhere else.

        • Re:Tax policy (Score:5, Insightful)

          by DavidTC (10147) <slas45dxsvadiv.v ... x.com minus berr> on Saturday January 17, 2009 @06:03PM (#26501067) Homepage

          I love how crazy people talk about how much percentage of taxes a percentage of people should pay, like that has anything to do with anything. We are taxed on income here, not per person.

          Those 1% earned 22% of all income. Hence at the very least they should have paid 22% of all income tax, in a crazy world where everyone pays exactly the same proportion of income tax.

          But no, loons like you like to imply they're paying a huge huge huge burden by using '1%' and '40%', instead of twice as much proportionally.

          Same with the top 5%, which earned 37% of all income, and hence should have paid at least 37% of all income taxes. So 60% is not some amazing step, that's only about 50% more than they should be paying in a completely 'fair' system.

          But I'm sure if it was like that, people like you would be whining that the top 1% paid 22% of all income tax.

      • Don't kid yourself, large US based companies doesn't pay tax either. Tax heavens are just an easier way to avoid paying tax, it is saving the companies money on the payroll to accountants and number magicians, but no not on the tax bill. Only people and small companies pay tax.

        [citation needed]

    • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Saturday January 17, 2009 @03:47PM (#26499847)

      They are receiving US GOVERNMENT funds taken from US TAXPAYERS and they're stashing them in foreign tax havens.

      This is solely for the benefit of their executives. It will not help rebuild the US economy.

      There needs to be a new law passed TODAY (drag Congress back in) that makes that practice illegal.

      If you want "bailout" funds, you cannot use a foreign tax haven.

      If you use a foreign tax haven, you cannot receive "bailout" funds.

      Why should the US taxpayers finance some CEO's retirement villa in Monte Carlo while the economy drags?

      • by John_Yossarian (1160273) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @07:48PM (#26501857)
        While taxpayer funds are being used in the "bailout", this is not free money. There are a few strings attached related to executive compensation and raising dividend rates on common stock. And also, it is not free money. The bailout is closer to being a loan than a gift. (Actually the bailout is the government purchases preferred stock at a specified price that pays a nice interest rate - 5% initially but this later raises to 9%.) I personally disagree with Government intervention in the market, but the bailout has been misrepresented in the press. It is not free money and the taxpayers are not out 700 Billion dollars.
        • by eh2o (471262) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @03:29AM (#26504301)

          While its true they sold the bailout as a "loan", they also specifically stated that there was no guarantee taxpayers would get their money back.

          Which is idiotic. Common practice is to use collateral to back a loan. The bailout operators refuse to take sufficient stock in companies to assure the collateral value. They also refuse to actually audit any of the companies they are bailing out to determine how much their stock is actually worth.

          In other words, its either criminal mismanagement or a more likely, a giant scam. And tacking the the executive compensation terms on there is total PR stunt.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Score Whore (32328)

        They are receiving US GOVERNMENT funds taken from US TAXPAYERS and they're stashing them in foreign tax havens.

        No they aren't. First, every penny of the TARP funds is either new money or debt. Not a single penny of taxpayer funds have been given. Second, there is no point in putting cash in a tax haven. You don't get taxed on having money. If the government sticks a billion dollars in your bank account, you won't pay a cent in taxes on that billion dollars even if you let it sit there forever.

        Oh and guess w

    • Re:Tax policy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by quanticle (843097) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @04:14PM (#26500065) Homepage

      Taxes are the price we pay for civilization.

      The reason places like Luxembourg, Cayman Islands, etc. can get away with charging low (or no) corporate tax is that those places are small and relatively lightly populated. Therefore, the government there doesn't have a whole lot of needs, and can get away with a light budget. The solution to this inequality, as others have suggested, is to close loopholes and make sure that corporations are paying their fair share of taxes, not to reduce the size of our government to that of Luxembourg.

      • by Nimey (114278) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @04:37PM (#26500279) Homepage Journal

        Wrong. The solution is mass genocide, so that the United States is just as sparsely populated as Luxembourg and our taxes go down to similar levels.

        Vote Genocide in 2010!

    • Re:Tax policy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Yokaze (70883) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @04:25PM (#26500161)

      > Maybe if the US tax policy wasn't insanely out of line with the rest of the world, we wouldn't have this problem.

      Rest of the world? The economical rest of the world is having the same problem. It isn't like they said, Tax Havens like Canada, France, UK, Germany or Japan.

      Simple tragedy of the commons. Tax havens are small nations, which profit over-proportionally from shift of profit to their nations. A lower tax in small nations results in an increase in tax-income due to accounting of companies in larger economic nations. Hardly a sustainable approach for larger economies.

      > Can you blame these companies for getting away?

      Well, those companies make profits in nations, which provide them infrastructure, educated people as working force and affluent people as customers. Then they transfer the profits to a different nation due to lower taxes, thereby reducing their contribution to the same society, which provided for their profits.
      I'd say that is hardly laudable.

    • by sjs132 (631745)

      I agree, too bad I can't register myself in a tax haven country and get away with it... :(

  • by feepness (543479) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @03:32PM (#26499717) Homepage
    I was against the bailout to begin with, but this is silly.

    We give them money, then they are supposed to give it back?

    Is this so Hank Paulson and some IRS agent can siphon some off to keep their jobs?
    • by jabithew (1340853)

      You should see what we've done [order-order.com] in the United Kingdom. Our resident financial wizards, the Brown/Darling axis, have decided to force our banks to borrow from the state at 12%. In addition to this, to...erm...diversify their books, the banks are to be forced by the FSA to buy government bonds at 4%.

      So our bail-out seems to be a large tax.

  • by BoRegardless (721219) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @03:32PM (#26499719)

    2nd highest in the industrialized world behind only Japan, as I recall the most recent article.

    California has the highest or 2nd highest corp. (and other) taxes and has a net outflow of population compared to inflow.

    You don't think taxes has something to do with economic decisions?

    Think again.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by stinerman (812158)

      Our stated corporate tax rates are relatively high. However, we have so many loopholes, deductions, credits, etc. no one actually pays the rate listed in a table somewhere.

      Real taxes paid by corporations is actually pretty low by world standards. No, you won't get a cite because I'm lazy.

      That being said, business doesn't pay taxes. Taxes are just another cost passed along to the consumer.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by quanticle (843097)
        If that's the case, then wouldn't we be better off by lowering the overall tax rate and closing loopholes so that more corporations pay the stated tax rate, rather than using loopholes to pay a rate below the stated rate?
      • Real taxes paid by corporations is actually pretty low by world standards. No, you won't get a cite because I'm lazy.

        Anyone care to jump in with a citation? There are about a dozen +4/+5 posts on this topic that make that assertion without providing a shred of evidence.

        For now, I'm not quite buying it....

    • Put it this way,

      If they didn't setup Tax Havens, they would probably have needed a bigger bail out.

      In all seriousness, the corporate tax rate should be 0%. We would end this shell game immediately.

      A corporation is not a person. No one cares how much money it makes. People only care when they get paid.
      - shareholders get dividends and capitals gains... this is taxed
      - employees get paid a salary... this is taxed as income
      - CEOs get paid a salary and bonuses... this is taxes as income

      So voila... eliminate th

      • by yachius (1348219) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @04:47PM (#26500361) Homepage
        The billions and billions of dollars that sit in corporate bank accounts shouldn't be taxed? CEOs will just start using expense accounts for everything instead of multi-million dollar salaries.
        • Billions in corporate accounts is a good thing. Do you notice how microsoft and cisco are able to weather economic downturns? It's called being a healthy company. Unlike government, corporations have to earn every dollar and have savings during downturns.

          As to expense accounts, give me a break. They can do that now if they want. The IRS already monitors these and audits them.

          If you really really really must prevent hoarding, you can have a simple flat tax on any money in the corporate bank over say 10X

          • If you really really really must prevent hoarding, you can have a simple flat tax on any money in the corporate bank over say 10X annual earnings. Theoretically, that gives the corporation a buffer of 10 years to weather recessions and what not.

            We already have this, it's called the accumulated earnings tax, and it applies when a corporation hoards more money than needed for business.

  • by solder_fox (1453905) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @03:33PM (#26499729)

    Theoretically, their duty is to maximize return on investment for their stockholders, which means doing everything they can legally to minimize their tax liability. So if a tax shelter is legal, expect them to use it. (If it's not legal, expect them to try to pretend it's legal.)

    Now, though, because in some cases their partial owner is the U.S. government, there is a conflict of interest between the interests of the government shareholder and the private shareholders.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by larry bagina (561269)
      Yes... with the government involvement, their directive is no longer "to make money" but "do what we tell you to do". For banks, that means everyone should be able to own a home, even if they can't afford it. For GM/Chrysler, that means building green/ethanol vehicles (even if nobody wants them anymore).
      • by Achromatic1978 (916097) <robert@@@chromablue...net> on Saturday January 17, 2009 @04:24PM (#26500151)

        For GM/Chrysler, that means building green/ethanol vehicles (even if nobody wants them anymore).

        Which is, of course, why the waiting list for the Prius is currently at four months and growing, and yet there's no waiting list for a Chevy Silverado, etc?

        • The Prius is not a green vehicle. Not when you compare it to, say, a Ford Focus. Sipping gas is only part of the equation.

          There is a waiting list because people are more concerned with image than the environment, and "caring for the environment" is the image people think they're conveying by buying a Prius.

      • Yes... with the government involvement, their directive is no longer "to make money" but "do what we tell you to do".

        Which is as it should be.

        The old owners (shareholders) objective in running these companies was to make money. The new owner (the government) has different objectives.

        Too bad. When you work at a company, you do what the boss wants.

    • by HangingChad (677530) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @04:14PM (#26500073) Homepage

      Theoretically, their duty is to maximize return on investment for their stockholders, which means doing everything they can legally to minimize their tax liability.

      I've heard that line ever since the Regan administration. It's a line corporate execs use to excuse excess and over-stepping. Fiduciary duty to investors does not require anyone to cheat the government and broader base of taxpayers by setting up operations in tax shelter countries and burying revenue to avoid paying US taxes.

      It's time we crushed that truism and stop accepting it as some sort of financial gospel that will excuse corporate misbehavior. The "free market" we have in place now rewards a few people at the top and screws everyone else down the line. Time for accountability and responsibility to come back in style and that starts with the people at the top of the artificial person we call a corporation.

      • by grep_rocks (1182831) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @06:41PM (#26501367)
        Mod parent up - companies exist because we the people let them exist - they have a charter to do something "beneficial" to society - like making cars, jellybeans or whatever... - that is why companies were invented so that groups of people can get together aggregate capital and do something useful for society - if corporations act as sociopathic parasites which privatize profits and shove costs onto the rest of society then they should be shut down and their directors jailed - people forget what companies exist for - they do not exist in and of themselves but in the context of the rest of society - duh, why have companies if they just fuck the rest of society.... but libertarian slashdotters seem to think that compaines should be able to do what ever the fuck they want while screwing the rest of us, like they are really something other than a fucking legal contract... we forget why companies were even allowed to exist in the first place.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "their duty is to maximize return on investment for their stockholders, which means doing everything they can legally to minimize their tax liability."

      they also do everything they can to minimize everything else too. This is why i now refuse to work for any company which is publicly traded. These companies dont give a shit about anything but the shareholders, customers and employees dont matter in the least.

      In fact, i may go further still & refuse to buy from publicly traded companies, but that will be

  • by shma (863063) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @03:36PM (#26499753)
    If the government is willing to give your tax dollars to companies that cheat the US, then the only appropriate response is to refuse to pay your taxes, and get as many people as possible to do the same.
  •       We know what to do with the ones we own now.

      rd

  • by mr_death (106532) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @03:42PM (#26499813)

    "there is nothing sinister in so arranging one's affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible".

    People and companies respond to incentives -- it is really surprising that the bizarre tax structure in the US pushes companies to form subsidiaries? Apparently it is, to either clueless or grandstanding politicians.

    • So, setting up elaborate structures to avoid being convicted of, say, murder, is also acceptable in your eyes?
      • He's arguing against setting up a tax structure that allows and encourages setting up tax havens. Similarly, Mr. Death would probably be against setting up a criminal justice system that does the same for murder.

        Since there are international treaties governing both commerce and extradition, it behooves us to make sure that in both areas we discourage people of taking advantage of international political necessities.

        Getting rid of the death penalty would help in the latter area wrt. other countries' extradi

      • In a way you're proving the grandparent's point with your absurd suggestion. Thanks to the system working well in the field of murder, there is no way to setup an elaborate structure to avoid being guilty of murder, or no reasonable method I have ever heard of.

        The response to unacceptable behavior from a societal/governmental point of view should not be punishing things that the law says are okay, it should be changing the laws to make the unacceptable behavior illegal.

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      People and companies respond to incentives -- it is really surprising that the bizarre tax structure in the US pushes companies to form subsidiaries?

      Step 1. Form a subsidiary in Ireland or some tropical island
      Step 2. Give patents/copyrights/trademarks to the subsidiary
      Step 3: Short Version: Profit!

      Step 3. Long Version: License your former IP from the subsidiary so that you can write off the payments as a business expense, thus lowering your US tax burden AND book the payments as a profit through the subsidiary, in a country where tax on profits is minimal. And this is one of the simpler schemes.

      You tell me if that sounds like a result of "the bizarre ta

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 17, 2009 @03:58PM (#26499933)
    Most of the major companies mentioned are not receiving any "rescue" from the government, and would not want or need any. Additionally, just because a business has set up a subsidiary in another country does not at all indicate that it is trying to avoid taxes. There are many reasons to set up subsidiaries, including requirements of the local governments. These are LEGAL subsidiaries, whether the purpose is for tax reasons or otherwise. The corporate tax rate is so high in the U.S. that some of these businesses (and others) feel compelled to take LEGAL action to lower their taxes to workable levels.
    • by Achromatic1978 (916097) <robert@@@chromablue...net> on Saturday January 17, 2009 @04:28PM (#26500193)
      17 of the companies listed have offices in those countries despite doing no business there, so the "requirements of local government" go out the window.

      For some of those other countries, the "local office" requirement was made at the behest of their banks, because they were scared that they'd lose the business of some of these companies when other countries introduced restrictions on the use of tax havens.

      You'll notice that for many of these companies that supposedly do do business in those countries, the only address you'll find for them in the country will be, curiously enough, also the address for their lawyers in that country, or their accountants, and they'll only have one employee, who is actually "on part time secondment", curiously enough, from said lawyer or accountancy.

  • I don't know why anyone complains about this. I mean it's not like corporations are anything but the great back bone of our country. Forget rights and freedoms, we all know it's the corporations who make this country great. It is why we give them all of the rights and privileges of human beings but none of the responsibility. For instance they own copyrights much longer than mortal humans. I mean look, we have one of the highest corporate tax burdens in the free world and one of the strongest economies
    • Don't be silly taxes and regulations are evil - that's why the countries with the least taxes and regulations have the richest citizens and the most profitable companies.

  • Sure corporations do this. And not just US ones. And not just corporations, many non-profit organizations also benefit from that status to maximize their revenue.

    Greenpeace, Amnesty International, Mozilla Foundation, Wikipedia and many, more more are just flying non-profit "flags of convenience" to avoid paying taxes on their commercial operations arms.

    The Tax system is deeply flawed, and since it benefits the rich, powerful, and those who aspire to be, it's not going to change any time before Hell f
  • republicans tag (Score:3, Informative)

    by rpillala (583965) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @04:30PM (#26500213)

    I see the "republicans" tag on this story and am having a hard time making the connection. If I remember right, a large number of republican members of congress didn't like the idea of the bailout and continue to speak against the release of the second half of the money. We need a tag called "bipartisans." I think part of Obama's appeal to monied interests is "All this partisan bickering is getting in the way of what we can really do for this country: get paid."

    • That they did nothing but deregulate for 10 years. The only reason some Republican politicians made political theater out of the bailout is because it was an easy way to appeal to pissed off citizens during an election year. Conservative economic policies have reigned supreme for a decade, and this mess is what we have to show for it. Don't feign surprise when blame is placed at the feet of the party that controlled the policies that lead to the mess.
  • by Phoenix666 (184391) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @04:48PM (#26500375)

    Corporations and the power-elite have ripped the US taxpayers off to the tune of trillions of dollars over the past eight years alone. They always have, of course, but it has grown so rampant and egregious that we must put a stop to it once and for all. That means cracking down on offshoring and outsourcing by companies that come to the US taxpayer begging for hand-outs. It means life-sentences or worse for the white-collar criminals like Bernie Madoff who are responsible. It means revocation of corporate charters for companies that do wrong, to curb the complicity of Boards of Directors and middle-management in white-collar crime; there must be more cases like Arthur Andersen being put out of business by the government.

    And to those who contend that if we hold companies and white-collar criminals responsible for their actions that capital will simply flee the country, I ask, where are they gonna go? Where can they go that the long arm of the American people cannot reach? Mars? Because the US can make life on earth very uncomfortable for any place else that arouses its ire by sheltering them.

    • This kind of un-informed nonsense tells me that too many Americans believe their nonsense media:

      Eg

      1. Arthur Anderson is alive and well as Accenture.

      2. Europe, Japan ... USA is barely hanging on in Europe, they dont argue, they just ignore you, and you have just suffered 8 years of that
  • I find it amusing that US politicians are always talking about decreasing personal income tax, at the same time the corporate tax take has gone from 34% (1968) to just 15% in 2008. So who is paying the missing 19% of the tax take pie you may ask ? At the end of the day you and "your children" are as the government prints money and borrows. This gives the wonderful double whammy of an inflated currency (true worth of the currency drops) and a massive debt to pay off (over $3000 per person needs to be spent j
  • People want to avoid being stolen from? Who would have thought? That some people are more than willing to steal from others, while hypocritically trying to avoid being stolen from themselves? One of the many unfortunate corruptions of civil society that the government brings.
  • by Superpiduh (919563) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @05:03PM (#26500515)
    If these companies didn't minimize their corporate taxes through any (legal) means possible, then they are doing a disservice to their shareholders. I would argue that they are doing a criminal disservice by not minimizing their taxes - they are not maximimizing the return on investment to their shareholders. Assuming that the money saved in taxes doesn't end up all being spent on hookers and blow for the top executives of a company, minimizing taxes helps the business grow. If you think paying taxes is such a great idea, go ahead, volunteer some extra money to the tax department, or avoid taking any of your legal deductions.
  • It seems the article and the report casts the net too wide.

    Some mega-corps (like Coca-Cola and Cisco) actually do business everywhere, and even though they show considerable numbers of businesses in tax havens, those are a small fraction (10%) of the total number of countries in which they have offices. For companies like that, I'd be surprised to find a country where they are *not* operating.

    Others, like Chevron and Goldman Sachs, show over half of their foreign operations in tax-haven locales. To me, tha

  • by OpenSourced (323149) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @05:20PM (#26500647) Journal

    It's all part of the NewParadigm (TM). The NewParadigm ends with the old-fashioned way of taking money in form of taxes and using it to provide services to the people. The NewParadigm reduces the input of taxes, and makes up the difference by issuing debt, that is in turn bought by the Chinese, that for some cultural superstition of them, like to work hard, sell merchandise, and lend back all the received money to the buyers, to allow them to buy still more stuff.

    In the NewParadigm is not wrong for corporations to use tax law loopholes to evade taxes, and even receive bailout money afterwards, because the bailout money is just more debt, and debt is good. The NewParadigm states that the bigger the debt of a country, so much the better, because the debtors will be scared of forcing a default, and will keep on buying debt forever. So now, besides having companies too big to fail, we have countries too big to fail. In the NewParadigm, once you have a company deemed too big to fail, you can stop working, because the government will pay all your costs, as by definition they cannot allow you to fail. If you manage to have a country too big to fail, you also can stop working, and finance yourself just by selling bonds.

    The reason because the NewParadigm works is because the world increase of productivity has generated a net production surplus. With the old paradigm, there was no way to use that surplus. If you stopped working to reduce the surplus, you stopped having money, and so you died, or got sick or something, and usually returned to work, very likely coughing. If you kept on working, the surplus just got bigger, and was from time to time wiped out by crisis and wars. However, the increase in production lately has made those two methods rather inadequate anymore. The NewParadigm, however, offers a way out of the dilemma. You can now stop working (or pretending to work in non-productive jobs like marketing or politics or the military) and keep on living well just by adding to your VISA debt balance. A whole country can do that by adding the VISA debt balances of the population and putting them into bonds, and selling the to the Chinese. In that way the surplus is eliminated and global prosperity ensues.

    Those that will like to point out the current crisis as a negation of the principles of the NewParadigm should be ashamed of themselves, as the current crisis is obviously produced by _failure_ to fully apply the NewParadigm principles. Some old fashioned thinkers, worried by old fashioned guilt thoughts about getting something from nothing, got cold feet and stopped issuing more debt. But now the good work has been taken up by the governments, and all the VISA debt will be backed up by bonds, that the Chinese will promptly buy. So please don't criticize these companies, they are the backbone of the next step in economical evolution, and you are old fashioned thinkers, probably full of shit too.

  • Including you. If you want them to pay more change the law. Arranging one's affairs so as to minimize tax liability is neither wrong nor illegal.

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