The financial secrets of many of the world's elites are trickling out thanks to the release of what are being called the Paradise Papers. The massive leak of internal documents from Bermuda-based law firm Appleby is spurring headlines like this one: "Lewis Hamilton avoided taxes on £17m jet using Isle of Man scheme." It has also led Bernie Sanders to warn of a "rapid movement toward international oligarchy." In a statement to the Guardian, he says the papers show "how these billionaires and multinational corporations get richer by hiding their wealth and profits and avoid paying their fair share of taxes." Two apparent examples, as revealed by some of the 13.4 million records being examined:
- Apple: The tech giant has employed a maneuver called the "double Irish" that allows the company to route its non-Americas revenue in a way that incurs very little tax. The EU in 2013 decided to probe this arrangement, and Ireland cracked down: It announced that firms incorporated there wouldn't be allowed to be stateless for tax purposes, as Apple's Irish subsidiaries were. The Paradise Papers leak reveals Apple found its state. Communications between Applelby and Apple show Apple asking about the benefits that might come from various options (think Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, the Isle of Man). It ended up going with Jersey, an island between England and France, reports the BBC, where foreign companies are taxed at a 0% rate.
- Nike: The Guardian reports the Paradise Papers spell out exactly how Nike has been able to reduce its tax burden, and says the Netherlands is key. From 2005 to 2014, the revenue from sales throughout Europe went there, and much of it then traveled to Bermuda via its Bermudan subsidiary, Nike International Ltd. That subsidiary was pretty much a shell: no office, no staff, but it possessed Nike's intellectual property rights, which let it impose big royalty fees of Nike's European headquarters, which created the funnel that legally allowed profits to move to the Bermuda subsidiary. Then things got even weirder with the creation of the subsidiary Nike Innovate CV which is based ... nowhere. The Guardian explains.
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