Offshore Shell Games 2016 The Use of Offshore Tax Havens by Fortune 500 Companies

By Richard Phillips, Citizens for Tax Justice; Matt Gardner, Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy; Kayla Kitson, Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy; Alexandria Robins, U.S. PIRG Education Fund; and Michelle Surka, U.S. PIRG Education Fund

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 paying taxes. Corporate lobbyists and their congressional allies have riddled the U.S. tax code with loopholes and exceptions that enable tax attorneys and corpo­rate accountants to book U.S. earned profits to subsidiaries located in offshore tax haven coun­tries with minimal or no taxes. The most trans­parent and galling aspect of this is that often, a company’s operational presence in a tax haven may be nothing more than a mailbox. Overall, multinational corporations use tax havens to avoid an estimated $100 billion in federal in­come taxes each year.

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The 100 Largest Governments and Corporations by Revenue

Nicholas Freudenberg

How does the size of governments and corporations compare? To answer this question, I identified one metric often used to measure the size of organizations: annual revenues. I then found a source for annual revenues for governments, The CIA World Fact Book and another for corporations, The Global Fortune 500 List. Both provided data for 2014. The results below show that of the 100 governments and corporations with the highest annual revenues in 2014, 63 are corporations and 37 are governments. Previous analysts have compared corporations to national economies, a different measure. In 2000, Anderson and Cavanagh found that of the 100 largest economies in the world, 51 were global corporations and 49 were countries. In 2012, the economic analyst D. Steven White listed the top 175 “economic entities” in the world for 2011, using GDP for nations and revenues for corporations. Of these, 63% were corporations and 37% were nations.

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