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"Tax Freedom" Differs for North Dakotans, U.S. Corporations

IMAGE: As North Dakotans celebrate what's known as Tax Freedom Day, freedom from taxes is something that a number of major U-S corporations enjoy year round. A recent report found that dozens of U.S. multinationals have admitted to using tax havens, avoiding $600 billion in U.S. taxes. Image courtesy of the Tax Foundation.
IMAGE: As North Dakotans celebrate what's known as Tax Freedom Day, freedom from taxes is something that a number of major U-S corporations enjoy year round. A recent report found that dozens of U.S. multinationals have admitted to using tax havens, avoiding $600 billion in U.S. taxes. Image courtesy of the Tax Foundation.
April 29, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. - This is Tax Freedom Day in North Dakota, marking the day of the year when residents on average have earned enough money to pay off their total tax bill for the year. But when it comes to some of the country's largest corporations, tax freedom has a much different meaning.

Matt Gardner, executive director of the Institute on Taxation and Public Policy, said companies such as Nike, Safeway, American Express and Wells Fargo all use offshore tax havens. He said the impact on the U.S. Treasury is significant.

"If these companies paid the U.S. taxes that they ought to be paying on this income," he said, "we'd be talking about $600 billion."

Gardner said many corporations that fail to disclose whether their offshore holdings are tax havens are the same ones lobbying Congress to enact a temporary "tax holiday" or a permanent exemption for offshore income. He said both proposals would only reward companies for shifting profits overseas, and average Americans would end up footing the bill.

"When corporations don't pay their fair share," he said, "really, the impact is that the rest of us, middle-income families and small businesses, pay more to make up the difference."

As of the end of last year, Gardner said, more than 300 Fortune 500 companies collectively held more than $2 trillion in countries such as Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas.

The report on tax havens is online at ctj.org. Tax Freedom Day information is at taxfoundation.org.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - ND