America’s largest companies collectively hold $2.1 trillion in offshore tax havens, allowing them to avoid some $90 billion in taxes per year, says a new study.
Seventy-two per cent of companies listed on the Fortune 500 operated subsidiaries in known tax havens as of the end of 2014, said the report from Citizens for Tax Justice and the Public Interest Research Group Education Fund.
The survey found Apple to be the largest user of tax havens among Fortune 500 companies, booking $181.1 billion offshore. It estimates Apple would owe $59.2 billion in taxes if this money had been booked in the U.S.
Apple’s tax practices have been a source of controversy. The U.S. Senate investigated the company in 2013, finding it had set up subsidiaries in Ireland that were tax residents of neither the U.S. nor Ireland.
“This arrangement ensures that they pay no tax to any government on the lion’s share of their offshore profits,” the study says.
Ireland has since moved to close that loophole.
Sixty per cent of Fortune 500 companies have set up subsidiaries in just two known tax havens — Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, “countries with minimal or no taxes where a company’s presence may be as little as a mailbox,” the study said.
The amount of money these companies earn in these countries amounts to more than 1,000 per cent of these countries’ annual economic output.
“Every dollar in taxes that corporations avoid by using tax havens must be balanced by higher taxes on individuals, cuts to public investments and public services, or increased federal debt,” the study said.
Here are the 30 largest U.S. users of offshore tax havens:
— William Alcopra contributed to this report.
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