Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Coca-Cola, Oracle, Intel Use Cayman Islands to Avoid U.S. Taxes

Coca-Cola, Tyco International, and Seagate Technology (the worlds largest producer of hard drives) are among the companies accused of avoiding taxes by having offshore locations. If passed into law, President Obama’s recent tax plans would likely force all of these corporations to pay higher taxes. Check out a snippet of the article below or read the full story at Bloomberg.com explaining why so many US companies would be affected.

Seagate Technology, the world’s largest maker of hard disk drives, is headquartered in Scotts Valley, California. Yet the documents it files with the Securities and Exchange Commission list its address on South Church Street in George Town, the capital of the Cayman Islands.

Seagate is just one of the companies that may be affected by President Barack Obama’s proposal yesterday to raise about $190 billion over the next decade by outlawing techniques used by U.S. companies in offshore locations to avoid paying taxes. While the U.S. corporate tax rate is 35 percent, Seagate paid an effective tax rate of 5 percent in the year ended June 2008, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The Caymans have no corporate income tax for companies incorporated there. The Caribbean island has helped scores of U.S. companies, including Coca-Cola Co. and Oracle Corp., to legally avoid billions in tax payments to the U.S. government, says U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan.

“Our Main Street businesses are working hard during this economic downturn to pay their fair share of taxes,” says Dorgan, 66, a North Dakota Democrat. “Some of the country’s largest corporations are using these loopholes to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. It is my hope that the Congress will quickly take action to pull the plug on tax breaks that subsidize runaway plants that move U.S. jobs overseas.”

One quarter of the 100 largest contractors with the U.S. federal government, including Altria Group Inc. and Tyco International Ltd have had subsidiaries in the Caymans, according to a study by the Government Accountability Office. At least 10 of the 30 companies listed in the Dow Jones Industrial Average have had units with addresses in the Caymans.

As of November 2007, 378 U.S. publicly traded companies had at least one significant subsidiary in the Cayman Islands, a GAO study found. Altria, Tyco, Coke and Oracle still have subsidiaries in the Caymans, according to their most recent SEC filings. Seagate lists its headquarters in Grand Cayman.

One of the Dow 30 companies using offshore sites to reduce its U.S. taxes is Santa Clara, California-based Intel Corp., the world’s largest chipmaker.

Intel’s then vice president of tax, licensing and customs, Robert Perlman told the U.S. Senate Finance Committee in March 1999 that Intel would have been better off incorporating in the Cayman Islands when it was founded in 1968.

“Our tax code competitively disadvantages multinationals simply because the parent is a U.S. corporation,” Perlman testified.

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