US Companies Stashing $1.9 Trillion Overseas

'Broken' tax code causes offshore hoarding to soar $183B last year

By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 8, 2013 2:22 PM CST

(Newser) – The top 83 US-based companies now hold a massive $1.45 trillion offshore, parked in low-tax countries, after increasing those holdings by 14.4%—or $183 billion—just in the last year, reports Bloomberg. The leader in offshore profit parking is GE, with $108 billion, up $6 billion from last year, followed by Pfizer with $73 billion. Tech giants Google, Apple, and Microsoft increased their non-US holdings by 34% last year and $75.2 billion over the past two years. Experts say the rise is due to US tax laws, which incentivize booking profits offshore, and estimate the total amount all US companies (not just the top 83) are keeping offshore could be $1.9 trillion.

"The corporate system is broken and it’s broken primarily because of international," says one professor of tax law. The United States is one of the few countries that applies its full 35% corporate tax rate to profits made by US-based companies' overseas offices, but companies can defer paying taxes until they return those profits home. Congress is working on alternative tax strategies—such as levying a much smaller tax on accumulated earnings, whether repatriated or not—but for now, those stockpiles keep growing.

The amount of profits that US-based companies keep stashed overseas is soaring, reaching an estimated $1.9 trillion.
The amount of profits that US-based companies keep stashed overseas is soaring, reaching an estimated $1.9 trillion.   (Shutterstock)
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