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Nearly three-quarters of Fortune 500 companies maintain subsidiaries in offshore tax havens, including seven Colorado-based firms, according to a new report by the Colorado Public Interest Research Group and Citizens for Tax Justice.
The study claims that the companies are reporting earnings in the tax havens — described as jurisdictions with very low or nonexistent taxes — to avoid paying taxes in the U.S.
As of 2013, at least 362 companies operate subsidiaries in tax-haven jurisdictions such as Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands.
"By booking profits to subsidiaries registered in tax havens, multinational corporations are able to avoid an estimated $90 billion in federal income taxes each year," the report states. "These subsidiaries are often shell companies with few, if any, employees, and which engage in little to no real business activity."
Apple has booked $111 billion offshore, the most of any company, followed by General Electric with $110 billion and Microsoft with $76.4 billion, according to the report.
Douglas County-based Liberty Global is said to hold $8 billion offshore, the largest amount among Colorado companies. The company ranks 11th in the nation in terms of the number of "tax-haven subsidiaries," with 104.
While its headquarters are in Douglas County, Liberty doesn't offer service in Colorado or the U.S.
So it's unclear whether Liberty is indeed trying to avoid paying taxes by booking revenue in some of the so-called tax havens because it is the largest international cable-TV company.
The CoPIRG report claims Liberty has 61 tax-haven subsidiaries in the Netherlands, where it has significant operations and is acquiring the country's second-largest cable-TV provider, Ziggo.
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