Corporate Tax Avoidance

ilene's picture

Corporate Tax Avoidance

Courtesy of Russ Winter of Winter Watch at Wall Street Examiner

Not to pick on just Microsoft, but they typify the method that large US multinationals use to lower taxes, and thus “beat on earnings”. Below is MSFT’s income tax discussion. They lower their effective tax rate a full 7% by taking foreign income to $19.2 billion from $15.4 billion, and lowering US income (and expenses) from $9.6 billion to $8.9 billion. Today MSFT is effectively a 68% foreign operation.  In return they get all the benefits of stimulus and minimize the costs of supporting the US system.

Twelve months ended June 30, 2011 compared with twelve months ended June 30, 2010

Our effective tax rates for fiscal years 2011 and 2010 were approximately 18% and 25%, respectively. Our effective tax rate was lower than the U.S. federal statutory rate and our prior year effective rate primarily due to a higher mix of earnings taxed at lower rates in foreign jurisdictions resulting from producing and distributing our products and services through our foreign regional operations centers in Ireland, Singapore, and Puerto Rico, which are subject to lower income tax rates. In fiscal years 2011 and 2010, our U.S. income before income taxes was $8.9 billion and $9.6 billion, respectively, and comprised 32% and 38%, respectively, of our income before income taxes. In fiscal years 2011 and 2010, the foreign income before income taxes was $19.2 billion and $15.4 billion, respectively, and comprised 68% and 62%, respectively, of our income before income taxes. In fiscal years 2011 and 2010, the reduction of the U.S. federal statutory rate as a result of foreign earnings taxed at lower rates was 16% and 12%, respectively.

One of the big economic winners, Apple Computer, is even worse, hardly paying a thin dime to a US Gumnut tottering towards insolvency. Here is the big picture of this foreign company getting US benefits going back a few years. Little wonder so much largesse flows into the hands of so few. Matt Taibii gets into some of the particulars. Bloomberg’s Jesse Drucker estimated that Google all by itself has saved $3.1 billion in taxes in the past three years by shifting its profits overseas. If the US is looking for a source to close its out of control deficits I have some suggestions.

source: Capital IQ

Apple Taxes Chart- Click to enlarge

Looking at the Daily Treasury Statement for the calender year through July 20, one can easily view the impact of these loopholes and deals that have been cut with the corporation sector at large.  When one hears talk of tax reform, and closing tax loopholes, prepare to duck and cover if you are an ordinary American. Taxes collected for CY 2011 for the corporation year to date were $131.5 billion, versus $167.2 billion for the same period in CY 2010, down nearly 17% YoY. Little wonder there are so many earnings beats from the corporate sector. Often taxes paid is a good measure of the reason. Works great as long as you ignore the fiscal blowback.


Corporate Tax Holiday deadbeats companies foreign taxes

Source: Rolling Stone


Mark Kreiger writes a spot on piece on the high end luxury bubble.  All I can say on this one is “that great minds think alike”. These are basically my quotes and key points. Here is one classic and to readers, a familiar sounding gem, “The social crisis facing the country as a result of the most egregious plundering in modern American history will spell the end of the “high end” theme. Buying into this trend now is like getting long Marie Antoinette’s unsevered head in 1792.” In addition he references the Bloomberg article about cash strapped consumers going to credit cards to support fuel and food consumption.

 “The swings in purchases of fuel and food have been “dramatic,” Tavares said. The volume of gasoline purchases placed on credit cards jumped 39 percent last month from a year earlier, compared with a 21 percent increase in June 2010, he said. Food shopping increased 5 percent.


This post is reprinted from Russ's premium service, Russ Winter's Actionable. Click here for information.  

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
MurderNeverWasLove's picture

Been posting this for years, but will always do it one more time. . .

Mother Of All Tax Reforms
  • Repeal all current taxes at every level, maybe roll the IRS employees over into the SEC and similar? ;)
  • Tax fiat like fuel-- Fiat fee at 0.49% to until debt extinguished.
  • $3 Quadrillion transacted yearly = $15 Trillion
  • Most tax collection occurs at Fedwire, SWIFT, DTCC, etc. -- the big money pipes.
  • Cash withdrawals are pre-paid at velocity of cash, so no further fees on cash transactions.
jbc77's picture

Great write up here.

nonplused's picture

Taxing corporations is a double tax.  You pay tax on dividends.  You pay tax on capital gains.  You own a part of the company.

Include dividends at 100%, include capital gains at 100%, and tax foreign holders as if they were residents for their US gains, and corporations do not need to be taxed.

Alternatively. tax corporations as if they were individuals, and elliminate dividend and capital gains taxes.

But this thing that's going on right now, where if you own stocks in say Apple, where Apple has to pay a bunch of tax, and then you as an owner have to pay a bunch more, is killing business formation.

It's as if a sports club had to pay dues to the leage, and then each member had to pay the same dues again.

Lmo Mutton's picture

No corporate taxes. No loopholes. Poor are not taxed. Rich naturally pay more by default. Underground economy is taxed.

Will work only if you spend less that what you take in. (Go figure)

AmCockerSpaniel's picture

This is why only a flat tax on gross income over the poverty level will work. Those that think companies will leave, and take the jobs with them have not been reading much. The jobs are already gone!

Yancey Ward's picture

Sigh.  Your goal should be to tax the profit benefit to the owners of the corporations, not the corporations themselves.  Just lower the corporate tax to zero and tax dividends and realized capital gains at ordinary income tax rates.  Problem not only solved, but you have given every corporation in the world that does business in the US incentive to incorporate here.  However, we are too stupid to do this.

GoldmanSux's picture

Huh? Under your scenario, if my personal corporation earns $20million, but I only dividend or salary myself $1million, a very small amount of tax is collected.

Yancey Ward's picture

As long as you aren't consuming that extra 19 million, one can assume it is productively invested in something- either growing your business, or growing someone else's.  This is what the tax code should encourage, not discourage.  Someone will eventually sell your company or take those dividends- either you or your heirs, and they will pay that income tax on those retained earnings.  The entire point of income is to consume at some point, so retaining earnings indefinitely is not an option.

Raymond Reason's picture

No....there's a catch.  You can't get the money out of your corporation.  You keep working, keep making money, but can't get it out.  And there are problems with loaning it to yourself...eventually. 

It just sits there.  I big target for opportunists. 

clagr's picture

Yours is a good suggestion, but not politically workable. So, instead we should have a flat tax of current year profits (no offsets for prior losses or carryforwards) of --say 10%--on worldwide earnings, with offsets for foreign taxes paid, BUT only to the extent of net profits repatriated to the US (and only to the extent that these repatriated funds are not sent back overseas by loans and investments.


This should satisfy the liberals that US companies are not getting off the hook, and induce companies to bring more business back here where it will not be taxed as heavily. (Maybe 5% is a better number.)


Also, however, we must eliminate the mountain of job killing, profit killing regulations or we will never restart Jobs Here.

Finally, nothing should be too big to fail and get liquidated.


JW n FL's picture

I was thinking of hanging them ALL! on the White House lawn for Treason, too much???

JW n FL's picture
‘Dutch Sandwich’ saves Google billions in taxes Internet giant uses complex structure to keep its overseas tax rate at 2.4%




Microsoft’s purchase of Skype for $8.5 billion provides a perfect illustration of why adopting a true worldwide corporate income tax system is critical to our economic future.  

According to the Wall Street Journal, the cash for Microsoft’s purchase of Skype (a Luxembourg-based company) will come out of its $42 billion in liquid assets held in foreign subsidiaries.

Because it is purchasing a foreign company with its overseas assets, Microsoft can avoid paying any U.S. tax that would be due if it had repatriated foreign earnings in order to purchase a US company for the same amount. Based on the company's effective foreign income tax rate disclosed in their most recent SEC filings, a repatriation of $8.5 billion dollars would cost Microsoft somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.1 billion in U.S. tax.

As a Forbes commentator opines, the Microsoft-Skype deal demonstrates the harmful incentive created in our current system that encourages companies to invest in overseas companies rather than domestic ones. The fear is that this deal may just be “a harbinger of things to come.”


Republicans to roll out new tax-cut proposal: WSJ
25 May 2011, by Michael Kitchen - Los Angeles (MarketWatch)

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are set to unveil a new economic proposal Thursday that will cut taxes for multinational corporations and lower other tax rates.

ThirdCoastSurfer's picture

A product sold and taxed in another country who's use or services are restricted to that country should not be double-taxed.

As a computer programmer from the days of Q-Basic, the problem with Microsoft is the ease with which it convinces the public that only the latest greatest version is any good for use and all other versions are not only obsolete, but will be unsupported.

Why the hell don't we do this with cars!?! Just like with Windows, once an improvement like a side air bag becomes available, servicing any auto without them should likewise be considered obsolete and unserviceable. 

The fault is not Microsoft's, it is our own. 

Here's a nice simple article on the "advancements" in computing beginning with Windows 95 that have left us on the verge of a Windows 8 release at a time when only 20% of the Fortune 500 have had time or need to upgrade to Windows 7:

falak pema's picture

The trouble with no taxation of corporates means the wealth distribution asymmetry goes berserk. The oligarchs own more and more and speculate short term for their own good. No trickle down there just slave labour world wide, ad nauseum. Its now the problem not the solution. This type of phony wealth creation will kill the real economy and democracy. That is if you want real social and economic democracy restored and not continued Oligarchy.

yakmerchant's picture

Please expain the link between reduced taxation of corporations and wealth distribution asymmetry (I won't hold my breath).   A corporation is a piece of paper.  The oligarchs will speculate short term with or without corporations (as they should). There are two sides to every transaction, and the only problem is the oligarchs are using government to rig the game.

Please define phony wealth creation?  Outside of central banks printing money there really isn't any such thing and if it is "phony" it is then fraud.   

I promise increasing taxes will never bring about the restoration of any sort of "democracy".  You might as well come out and say that you love you some Marx and Engels and we just need to confiscate everything from private owners and distribute wealth via the state.

falak pema's picture

You are barking up the wrong tree. Its not Marx and Engels that are raping the world today; it is the Oligarchic capitalist kleptocracy that has proxy politicians and owns the FED. Maybe you should learn to count. Maybe you should learn to understand that a P/E ratio of a risk asset that is maintained in levitation by pure artificial monetized pump FED action and artificially  low interest rates and consumer spending on borrowed money, is not REAL wealth creation but proxy wealth creation that can all disappear in a ponzi derivatives asset market crash. REAGANOMICS, thy name is INFAMY and will go down is history for having derailed capitalism by replacing the great business cycle by the great Ponzi of the perpetual BUBBLE cycle, which knows no issue except perpetual war or perpetual export of slavery to docile labour forces world wide. 

Where is this paradigm that is the basis of pursuit of individual happiness through frugal investment and hard labour? 

It's dead and along with it democracy. So Marx and Engels, who got officially shelved when the Soviet Union collapsed and when the NWO of American post-Reaganistic financial capitalism emerged as driving force to bubble globalisation, can hardly be blamed for this current mess. If you want to find scape goats to lynch in your blindness find more suitable ass holes like the Banksta class that is raping the people of EU/USA before our very eyes.

You cannot tell sheet from shine hole that comes across very clearly...Amen!

sgt_doom's picture

Please define sociopathic mindset, as you appear highly familiar with it?

Please define unethical and amoral?

Please define the "golden rule" he who owns the congress critter writes the tax code?

sun tzu's picture

There's no use explaining something to a dumbass like yourself

Fake Jim Quinn's picture

We can adjust individual tax rates to address this. Yes there is something plain wrong when a non-entrepreneur is being paid the equivalent on 1,000 people. So let's look at that, not tax companies.

Fake Jim Quinn's picture

Corporations are simply after-tax ROI machines. Corporate taxes are just a tax on people. Raise their taxes to a point where the ROI does not make sense, and they cut costs or raise prices. Cost cuts are usually in salaries or reduced staff. Prices we all pay. Let's drop the nonsense about pounding companies. Better solution is keep their taxes low. Let them hire us, gives us raises, and let we the people vote for and pay for what we get from taxes in return.

Eternal Student's picture

Yeah, that's working out so very well right now, isn't it? Got any other ideas which don't match reality?

sun tzu's picture

There's no corporate tax in America? When was that law passed?

Eternal Student's picture

Reading challenged, I take it? The original point was about keeping corporate taxes low, and we've had the lowest corp taxes in years.

So much so that, if you'll read one of the threads you commented on, quite a number of companies have paid zero tax.

G. Marx's picture

Those stupid multinationals. Don't they know that they fail in their nationalistic duty to take it up the ass for their good ole Uncle Sam? Sheesh.

Altogether now...


Columns like this show who the statist suck-up are.

sgt_doom's picture

Spoken like a true running dog lackey for the Transnational Capitalist Class.....

sun tzu's picture

Spoken like a true running dog lackey for the Transnational Fascist Class.....

sethstorm's picture

Multinational status doesn't confer immunity. 

AustrianEconomist's picture

Only a restructuring of the international monetary system and its underlying economic theories will help resolve the sovereign debt crisis in the US and Europe.

Check out the latest from the Capital Research Institute (CRI):

The Financial System - A House of Cards

JW n FL's picture
Top 10 corporations which paid no taxes

Here is Sen. Sanders’ list of the 10 worst corporate income tax avoiders:

1) Exxon Mobil made $19 billion in profits in 2009. Exxon not only paid no federal income taxes, it actually received a $156 million rebate from the IRS, according to its SEC filings. (Source: Exxon Mobil’s 2009 shareholder report filed with the SEC here.)

2) Bank of America received a $1.9 billion tax refund from the IRS last year, although it made $4.4 billion in profits and received a bailout from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department of nearly $1 trillion. (Source: here, ProPublica here and Treasury here.)

3) General Electric made $26 billion in profits in the United States over the past five years and, thanks to clever use of loopholes, paid no taxes.(Source: Citizens for Tax Justice here and The New York Times here. Note: despite rumors to the contrary, the Times has stood by its story.)

4) Chevron received a $19 million refund from the IRS last year after it made $10 billion in profits in 2009. (Source: See 2009 Chevron annual report here. Note 15 on page FS-46 of this report shows a U.S. federal income tax liability of $128 million, but that it was able to defer $147 million for a U.S. federal income tax liability of negative $19 million.)

5) Boeing, which received a $30 billion contract from the Pentagon to build 179 airborne tankers, got a $124 million refund from the IRS last year. (Source: Paul Buchheit, professor, DePaul University, here and Citizens for Tax Justice here.)

6) Valero Energy, the 25th largest company in America with $68 billion in sales last year, received a $157 million tax refund check from the IRS and, over the past three years, received a $134 million tax break from the oil and gas manufacturing tax deduction. (Source: the company’s 2009 annual report, pg. 112, here.)

7) Goldman Sachs in 2008 only paid 1.1 percent of its income in taxes even though it earned a profit of $2.3 billion and received an almost $800 billion from the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury Department. (Source: Bloomberg News here, ProPublica here, Treasury Department here.)

8) Citigroup last year made more than $4 billion in profits but paid no federal income taxes. It received a $2.5 trillion bailout from the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury. (Source: Paul Buchheit, professor, DePaul University, here, ProPublica here, Treasury Department here.)

9) ConocoPhillips, the fifth largest oil company in the United States, made $16 billion in profits from 2006 through 2009, but received $451 million in tax breaks through the oil and gas manufacturing deduction. (Sources: Profits can be found here. The deduction can be found on the company’s 2010 SEC 10-K report to shareholders on 2009 finances, pg. 127, here.)

10) Carnival Cruise Lines made more than $11 billion in profits over the past five years, but its federal income tax rate during those years was just 1.1 percent. (Source: The New York Times here.)

yakmerchant's picture

Seriously I'll pay you to stop pasting the same thing, OVER and OVER and OVER.  

JW n FL's picture

By accepting the Treasury post, Paulson is poised to take advantage of a tax loophole that allows government officials to defer capital gains taxes on assets they have to sell to avoid a conflict of interest, as long as the proceeds are reinvested in government securities or a broad array of mutual funds approved by the government within 60 days.

Technically, the tax kicks in once these replacement assets are sold, using the purchase price of the original assets as the cost basis, says Tom Ochsenschlager of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. But why sell when you can avoid the tax altogether?

"The idea is never to sell," says Robert Willens, the top tax and accounting analyst at Lehman Brothers. "If you're able to hold onto the replacement assets until your demise, you never have to pay it."


SamuelMaverick's picture

JW, I have replied to your idiotic post a few times and found that conversing with you is a complete waste of my time.  Why don't you, Ilene, GW, and Leo go start a tax and spend liberal progressive commie commune somewhere where you all can decide how you will run the world properly after you get all the evil rich companies profit.   

JW n FL's picture

I dont want to Tax Corporations.

I want to Hang the persons who are responsible for undermining the United States of America.

50,000 jobs a month sent to China.

Taxes Collected.. not what they should pay minus loop holes.. what they really pay.. those top 1% (maybe more, maybe 5%) of Entities that do NOT carry their fair share, whether thru Tax Loop Holes or Subsidies or Both!


I want them ALL Dead and I want those that have gutted the manufacturing base of America found Guilty of Treason.

I want those who Promoted and then Made Laws to Promote the undermining of Americas Manufacturing / Tax base brought to Justice.


I dont know what you take me for, but I dont want back taxes! I want BLOOD!


So you can take that wanna be conservative republican libertarian or what the fuck ever bullshit line of thinking you have and save it for those it applies too!


I will say it again! those responsible for gutting the manufactruring / tax base of America I want Prosecuted for Treason! NOTHING LESS! and NOTHING MORE!


Then, if you fucking cowards pull the same shit again! I will demand once again BLOOD!


SamuelMaverick's picture

Like I said JW, a complete waste of my time, although the entertainment factor of getting an ignorant blowhard like you to totally lose his cookies was worth posting a few sentence's. 

JW n FL's picture

I dont post for you, I post for the others who would like to know what happened and why there are No Jobs and No Tax Base.


you dont get me angry, you are my spring board! without you I would have had to stop talking about what happened!

You must be a Christian Fundamentalist.. You dont like what I have to say.. so you encourage me to say more. like your brethren in Norway, he hates muslims and therefore kills Christians! LOL!!!


God works in Wonderous and Mysterious ways!

sun tzu's picture

Loopholes should be closed, but what you are posting is pure bullshit and drivel. Either you're ignorant like 0bama or a liar. 

JW n FL's picture

are you saying that moving 6 million PLUS Manufacturing Jobs off shore for money is not treason?


and I am very serious about my view, as for there being enough intelligent people who can grasp the concept of the enormity of the rape in America? I would yield that it is highly un-likely that any President or court would try to pursue my very well laid out, sourced and sited.. factual basis.. in a court of law.


But I can dream of a better world. But if you must begrudge me that, then I understand that you have far larger issues than my dream to tend too.

JW n FL's picture

maybe it is not for you.. maybe its for the new people.. the people who dont know.. just because you know everything.. does not mean the rest of the World should be in the dark.

sun tzu's picture

You're obviously very ignorant and don't know how the tax code works. There are these things called loss carrybacks and carryforwards. It's kind of like when you have a trading loss and are limited to $3000 for the year and the rest is carried forward to offset future profits. Take intermediate accounting and you'll figure it all out. 

yakmerchant's picture

Corporate taxes should be eliminated.   Anyone with half a brain would realize eventually that money would get invested/deployed and earned by a "person" and that person would pay taxes (if it didn't get deployed the Chairsatan would inflate the value of FRN's away).  The U.S corporate tax code was implemented by goverment so they can pick winners and losers and politicians can have more control of which lobbyist is giving them a blow job.   I find it funny that Apple (who I don't like) is vilified by the same Liberal tards who buy nothing but apple products and wear nothing but black turtle necks.   They only do what the tax code allows; the real question is why do certain corporations pay so much less than other corporations?  

   And if the Keynesian economic geniuses that write these articles (and run our government) really don't understand why investment and manufacturing are leaving the U.S and which side of the Laffer curve we are on, then I guess we really are screwed.  Pretty soon I'll have an American Uncle Joe telling me to report to my farm job in Nebraska, and if I don't I'll be reeducated in an American gulag.


goodrich4bk's picture

Great idea, provided they also lose their status as "persons".  As purely creatures of the state, the state can set the rules for their existence.  No tax, no personhood.  


ThisIsBob's picture

Well its really had to get all excited about somebody not paying a lot of taxes, considering how much of them are spent on "regrettable" collateral damage in far off places, bankster bail-outs and, oh, scotch for Pelosi's plane and date nights for for Barry and Michelle. 

sun tzu's picture

As 0bama said, we little people don't understand how the world works. Just keep paying more taxes and let the politicians take care of things.

Widowmaker's picture

The solution is simple, cut spending and there is no need for taxes.

Start with emptying the prisons.


sun tzu's picture

Why not start with ending the wars and welfare state?


Funny how the big government types always want to start cutting spending by firing teachers, the firement & police, and closing prisons. It's a nice scare tactic to get the sheeple to agree to agree to more tax hikes. 

John_Coltrane's picture

The only question to ask yourself:  Can Steve Jobs of AAPL deploy capital from profits more effectively than the US (or any) government?  If yes, then AAPL tax rates should be lowered, not raised, since only efficient use of capital generates real wealth.  That's why I use my spare capital to buy AAPL rather than send a check to the government to help them with their deficit.   

Uncle Remus's picture

Can Steve Jobs of AAPL deploy capital from profits more effectively than the US (or any) government?


Neither. Bullshit question.