Apple, Cisco Systems, Google, and Microsoft legally hold $124 billion in US Treasury securities and $39 billion in US government agency debt in accounts overseas, allowing them to avoid the 35 percent (maximum) corporate tax rate in the United States, according to Securities & Exchange Commission reports.
Overall, the companies hold $333 billion in domestic and foreign accounts, making them the most lucrative American firms outside the financial sector.
The companies also hold $93.3 billion of corporate, municipal, and sovereign debt.
“This is a ridiculous situation," said University of Michigan professor of law, Reuven Avi-Yonah. “The result is US taxpayers pay interest on this money as opposed to the government receiving taxes. Bringing this cash onshore and taxing it at 35% would significantly help reduce the annual deficit of the US government.”
Besides offshore tax sheltering, CTJ said the companies are allowed to skirt tax rates based on factors that include accelerated asset depreciation based on continued investment, stock options, and industry-specific tax breaks.
On Wednesday, Bloomberg reported that the 317 largest US-based companies have $1.95 trillion held outside the US, an increase of 11.8 percent from last year.