How to to avoid paying tax in the USA – tips from America’s top-ten tax dodgers

[Jenny Burton, US Finance & Tax Contributor]

Alternet: For 10 of the world’s largest corporation, tax ‘optimisation’, or ‘negativing’ is an art form. So if you want to join their success in this field and become as successful as they are in their ‘art form’  Alternet‘s report (with the assistance of MSNBC) is a must-read as it gives an important insight into how they do it.

For example, last year, according the the New York Times, giant multi-national, GE , did not only avoid corporate income taxes, but took a “tax benefit” of $3 billion.

So how is this done? Read on:-

1. Google

  • CEO: Eric Schmidt is 117 on the Forbes list and worth around $6.3 billion
  • 2010 Pre-tax Profit: $10.8 billion
  • Anti-tax scheme: Google reports income in offshore tax shelters and reports its costs in the USA – nice! In addition, it patents its goods offshore and licenses its working technology from its overseas subsidiaries which allows it to put the cost of the licences against its tax bill in the USA – wonderful!!

2. News Corp

  • CEO: Rupert Murdoch ranks 53rd on Forbes’ list of highest-paid CEOs and is rated as the world’s 117th richest person
  • 2010 Pre-tax Profit: $3.3 billion
  • Anti-tax scheme: Of course, the offshore tax haven scheme is fav! The US Government Accountability Office in 2008 said that News Corp had the greatest number of subsidiaries in offshore tax-havens in the USA – not less than 150 of them all over the world! Who’s the daddy Rupert!

3. Boeing

  • CEO: W. James McNerney is, by the reckoning of Forbes, the 101st highest paid CEO in the world, taking in $58 million over the last five years for his diligent efforts at  work.
  • 2010 Pre-tax Profit: $4.5 billion
  • Anti-tax scheme: For the past three years Boeing has paid ‘nil’ taxes. How’s that you may ask? Well, check out the tax haven sheme – works for Goog and by gum, it works for Boeing!  Citizens for Tax Justice says that Boeing: ” paid 0.3 percent of its pre-tax income in federal income taxes in 2010″. Way to go Boeing!

4. Pfizer

  • CEO: Ian Read is a newbie so we don’t know how much he draws yet
  • 2010 Pre-tax Profit: $9.4 billion
  • Nil Tax management: Pfizer does not pay US taxes by a clever system of “transfer pricing” where high profits are recorded in low-tax countries from sales in ‘high-tax’ countries! Isn’t that simply spiffing??

5. Oracle

  • CEO: Lawrence Ellison is the 6th richest man in the world, according to Forbes, with riches of around $28 billion
  • 2010 Pre-tax Profit: $8.2 billion
  • Oracle’s scheme for tax negativing: A simple cloning of the highly-successful ‘transfer pricing’ scheme adopted by Pfizer.

6. Altria (Philip Morris)

  • CEO: Michael Szymanczyk is 176 on Forbes’ list of the highest paid CEOs and took in $6.35 million last year
  • 2010 Pre-tax Profit: $5.7 billion
  • Altria’s tax negativing scheme: The producer of the most deadly and addictive product on earth (cigarettes) which since 1999 has killed more than 40 million people worldwide, took advantage of $3.3 billion in tax breaks to cut its tax bill by 33%.

7. IBM

  • CEO: Samuel Palmisano is 21st on the Forbes list of highest paid CEOs and took in around $25 million last year
  • 2010 Pre-tax Profit: $19.7 billion
  • IBM’s anti-tax strategy: IBM has avoided paying US taxes by its diligent exploitation of US tax breaks which enabled it to cut its taxes by 95%!! Wish I could do that!!

8. Time Warner

  • CEO: Jeffrey Bewkes took $48 million in remuneration over the last five years and it on 56st on Forbes’ list of highest paid CEOs
  • 2010 Pre-tax Profit: $3.9 billion
  • Time Warner’s tax washing scheme: Between 2001 and 2003, the company exploited tax breaks so that it was enable to cut its tax bill by 121%. So for two years, it paid no taxes whatsover! Now, that’s clever!!  Interestingly enough, a Google search of ‘Time Warner’ and ‘evil’ gives 4.2 milllion results.

9. Morgan Stanley

  • CEO: James Gorman took home a bonus of $5.7 million bonus in 2009 after his firm became a star in world’s ongoing financial crisis. Well done Jamie!
  • 2010 Pre-tax Profit: $6.2 billion
  • Anti-tax device: Of course, offshore tax havens and then when it was kinda encouraged to come clean for an ‘amnesty’, it put back that money into the USA for a wonderful incentive of a 5% tax rate. Not bad Morg!

10. Microsoft

  • CEO: Steve Ballmer is the 33rd richest person in the world with a wealth that surpasses $14.5 billion, as reported by Forbes
  • 2010 Pre-tax Profit: $25 billion.
  • Anti-tax scheme: Income and transfer pricing strategies make Microsoft the king in its castle of tax-negativing.


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