Stop Offshore Tax Havens

Corporate tax havens cost Americans $90 billion each year, and cost Oregonians an additional $200 million in state tax revenue every year.

Many of America’s largest corporations use sophisticated schemes to shift their U.S. earnings to subsidiaries in offshore tax havens—countries with minimal or no taxes—in order to reduce their state and federal tax liability by billions of dollars. At least 362 companies, making up more than 70% of the Fortune 500, operate nearly 8,000 subsidiaries in tax haven jurisdictions as of 2013. This includes household names such as Bank of America, Nike, Apple, Microsoft, and Pfizer. [1]

The scale of this tax avoidance is significant. Most recent academic studies estimate that about $90 billion in federal tax revenue is lost every year to corporate offshore tax havens. Meanwhile, the state of Oregon loses an additional $200 million in state tax revenue annually to corporate tax avoidance. [2]

When corporations dodge taxes, individuals, small business owners and medium-sized domestic companies have to pick up the tab. This takes the form of cuts to public programs, higher tax rates, or taking on more public debt. For example, if offsetting the impact of corporate tax avoidance took the form only of tax increases spread evenly among individuals and Oregon businesses, each would have to cough up an additional $1,022 and $3,125 each year, respectively. [3]

Equally significant, multinational tax dodging puts the many businesses that play by letter and spirit of the rules at a competitive disadvantage. Businesses should compete on innovation and the quality of their products, not on their ability to pay for an army of clever tax attorneys and accountants. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. As a result, we have two tax systems—one for smaller companies and the sizeable domestic companies that play by the rules, and one for the corporations that use offshore tax schemes to avoid their taxes. The winners of this system are large multinationals like banks, high tech companies, and pharmaceutical companies, and the losers are retailers, small businesses, and ordinary taxpayers, who are forced to pick up the tab for tax haven abuse.

It’s not illegal, but it’s not right.

There are a number of ways in which lawmakers can and should crack down on corporate tax avoidance. Oregon lawmakers took a great first step in 2013 by approving a law that required companies to treat income reported to offshore subsidiaries in particularly notorious tax havens like the Cayman Islands as domestic income. [4]

OSPIRG Foundation is pushing for more commonsense changes like this that simply say that if corporations are based here and generate profits here, then they should, like all of us who earn income here, pay the taxes they owe.

[1] OSPIRG Foundation, June 2014, “Offshore Shell Games 2014: The Use of Offshore Tax Havens by Fortune 500 Companies.”
[2] OSPIRG Foundation, January 2013, “The Hidden Cost of Offshore Tax Havens: State Budgets Under Pressure from Tax Loophole Abuse.”
[3] OSPIRG Foundation, April 2014, “Picking Up the Tab 2014: Average Citizens and Small Businesses Pay the Price for Offshore Tax Havens.”
[4] 
Oregon Revised Statute 317.715

Issue updates

News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Tax

OFFSHORE TAX HAVENS COST AVERAGE OREGON SMALL BUSINESS $5,162.12 A YEAR

Small businesses in Oregon would have to shoulder an extra $5,162.12 in taxes to make up for the revenue lost due to the abuse of offshore tax havens by multinational corporations, according to a new report by OSPIRG. As a new administration takes office and the possibility of tax reform again enters the national conversation, the report highlights how it’s small domestic businesses and ordinary Americans that have to shoulder the burden of multinational tax avoidance.

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG | Tax

Picking Up the Tab

Every year, corporations and wealthy individuals use complicated gimmicks to shift U.S. earnings to subsidiaries in offshore tax havens – countries with minimal or no taxes – in order to reduce their federal and state income tax liability by billions of dollars. While tax haven abusers benefit from America’s markets, public infrastructure, educated workforce, security and rule of law – all supported in one way or another by tax dollars – they avoid paying their fair share for these benefits. 

> Keep Reading
Result | Tax

No tax giveaway for Comcast

The Oregon Department of Revenue has denied Comcast a big payday at taxpayer expense, following a public outcry and petitions from thousands of Oregonians across the state opposing a tax giveaway for the internet giant.

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation and Frontier Group | Tax

Following the Money 2016

> Keep Reading
News Release | OSPIRG Foundation and Citizens for Tax Justice | Tax

Study: 72% of Fortune 500 Companies Used Tax Havens in 2014

Portland, October 6 – Tax loopholes encouraged more than 72 percent of Fortune 500 companies –including Nike based here in Oregon– to maintain subsidiaries in offshore tax havens as of 2014, according to “Offshore Shell Games,” released today by OSPIRG Foundation and Citizens for Tax Justice. Collectively, the companies reported booking nearly $2 trillion offshore for tax purposes, with just 30 companies accounting for 65 percent of the total, or $1.35 trillion.

> Keep Reading

Pages

News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Tax

OFFSHORE TAX HAVENS COST AVERAGE OREGON SMALL BUSINESS $5,162.12 A YEAR

Small businesses in Oregon would have to shoulder an extra $5,162.12 in taxes to make up for the revenue lost due to the abuse of offshore tax havens by multinational corporations, according to a new report by OSPIRG. As a new administration takes office and the possibility of tax reform again enters the national conversation, the report highlights how it’s small domestic businesses and ordinary Americans that have to shoulder the burden of multinational tax avoidance.

> Keep Reading
News Release | OSPIRG Foundation and Citizens for Tax Justice | Tax

Study: 72% of Fortune 500 Companies Used Tax Havens in 2014

Portland, October 6 – Tax loopholes encouraged more than 72 percent of Fortune 500 companies –including Nike based here in Oregon– to maintain subsidiaries in offshore tax havens as of 2014, according to “Offshore Shell Games,” released today by OSPIRG Foundation and Citizens for Tax Justice. Collectively, the companies reported booking nearly $2 trillion offshore for tax purposes, with just 30 companies accounting for 65 percent of the total, or $1.35 trillion.

> Keep Reading
News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Tax

Study: 70% of Fortune 500 Companies Used Tax Havens in 2013

Tax loopholes encouraged more than 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies – including Nike in Oregon – to maintain subsidiaries in offshore tax havens as of 2013, according to “Offshore Shell Games,” released today by OSPIRG Foundation and Citizens for Tax Justice.

> Keep Reading
News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Tax

Poll: Public Wants Federal Agencies to Disclose and Restrict Corporate Tax Write Offs for Out-of-Court Settlements

A new poll shows that Americans want federal agencies to better disclose information about out-of-court settlements with corporations and to restrict companies from writing off these payments as tax deductions.

> Keep Reading
News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Tax

Oregon Receives an “A-” in Annual Report on Transparency of Government Spending

Oregon received an “A-” and ranked 2nd in the country for government spending transparency, according to “Following the Money 2014: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data,” the fifth annual report of its kind by the OSPIRG Foundation.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Result | Tax

No tax giveaway for Comcast

The Oregon Department of Revenue has denied Comcast a big payday at taxpayer expense, following a public outcry and petitions from thousands of Oregonians across the state opposing a tax giveaway for the internet giant.

> Keep Reading
Result | Tax

More Transparency for Economic Development Subsidies

After an outcry from the public, Governor Kitzhaber’s administration brought more transparency to economic development subsidies—giving Oregon taxpayers more tools to be able to track their return on investment through the Oregon Transparency Website. 

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG | Tax

Picking Up the Tab

Every year, corporations and wealthy individuals use complicated gimmicks to shift U.S. earnings to subsidiaries in offshore tax havens – countries with minimal or no taxes – in order to reduce their federal and state income tax liability by billions of dollars. While tax haven abusers benefit from America’s markets, public infrastructure, educated workforce, security and rule of law – all supported in one way or another by tax dollars – they avoid paying their fair share for these benefits. 

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation and Frontier Group | Tax

Following the Money 2016

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation and Citizens for Tax Justice | Tax

OFFSHORE SHELL GAMES 2015

U.S.-based multinational corporations are allowed to play by a different set of rules than small and domestic businesses or individuals when it comes to the tax code. Rather than paying their full share, many multinational corporations use accounting tricks to pretend for tax purposes that a substantial portion of their profits are generated in offshore tax havens, countries with minimal or no taxes where a company’s presence may be as little as a mailbox. Multinational corporations’ use of tax havens allows them to avoid an estimated $90 billion in federal income taxes each year.

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Tax

Offshore Shell Games 2014

This study examines the use of tax havens by Fortune 500 companies in 2013. It reveals that tax haven use is ubiquitous among America’s largest companies, but a narrow set of companies benefit disproportionately.   

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Tax

Following the Money 2014

This report, OSPIRG Foundation’s fifth annual evaluation of state transparency websites, finds that states are making progress toward comprehensive, one-stop, one-click transparency and accountability for state government spending. 

> Keep Reading

Pages

View AllRSS Feed

Support us

Your tax-deductible donation supports OSPIRG Foundation’s work to educate consumers on the issues that matter, and the powerful interests that are blocking progress.

Learn More

You can also support OSPIRG Foundation’s work through bequests, contributions from life insurance or retirement plans, securities contributions and vehicle donations.