Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dividend Tax Abuse: How Offshore Entities Dodge Taxes on U.S. Stock Dividends

Earlier in the day, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations issued a new report titled, “Dividend Tax Abuse: How Offshore Entities Dodge Taxes on U.S. Stock Dividends.” Below is the introduction, but you can download a PDF of the 77-page study by clicking here.

Each year, the United States loses an estimated $100 billion in tax revenues due to offshore tax abuses. The U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has examined various aspects of this problem, including how U.S. taxpayers have used offshore tax havens to escape payment of U.S. taxes. This Report focuses on a different subset of abusive practices that benefit only non-U.S. persons, have been developed and facilitated by leading U.S. financial institutions, and have been utilized by offshore hedge funds and others to dodge payment of billions of dollars in U.S. taxes owed on U.S. stock dividends.

Using phrases like “dividend enhancement,” “yield enhancement,” and “dividend uplift” to describe their products, U.S. financial institutions have developed, marketed, and profited from an array of transactions involving multi-million-dollar equity swaps and stock loans whose major purpose is to enable non-U.S. persons to dodge payment of U.S. taxes on U.S. stock dividends. In addition, many of the offshore hedge funds that have benefited from these abusive transactions appear to function as shell operations controlled by U.S. professionals who are helping them dodge U.S. dividend taxes. Six case histories illustrate the scope and nature of the offshore dividend tax abuse problem.

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