A Wall Street Journal analysis of 60 big U.S. companies found that, together, they parked a total of $166 billion offshore last year. That shielded more than 40% of their annual profits from U.S. taxes, though it left the money off-limits for paying dividends, buying back shares or making investments in the U.S. The 60 companies were chosen for the analysis because each of them had held at least $5 billion offshore in 2011. Within the group of 60 companies, WSJ found 10 that parked more earnings offshore last year than they generated for their bottom lines. The trend was most pronounced among the 26 technology and health-care companies. Not all of the earnings parked offshore are in cash. Some of the money is used to build plants and buy equipment overseas. Why? Apple said it held $40.4 billion in untaxed earnings outside the U.S. and estimated that it would owe $13.8 billion in tax if it brought that money back to the U.S. That is a 34% tax rate. Since foreign income taxes are creditable on U.S. taxes, that means Apple has paid less than 5% tax on those earnings to date.
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