Big US firms hold $2.1 trillion overseas to avoid taxes: study

Apple Avoided Paying Taxes On $102 Billion In Profits Stashed Offshore

The 500 largest American companies hold more than $2.1 trillion in accumulated profits offshore to avoid U.S. taxes and would collectively owe an estimated $620 billion in U.S. taxes if they repatriated the funds, according to a study released on Tuesday.

The study, by two left-leaning non-profit groups, found that nearly three-quarters of the firms on the Fortune 500 list of biggest American companies by gross revenue operate tax haven subsidiaries in countries like Bermuda, Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

The Citizens for Tax Justice and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund used the companies' own financial filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission to reach their conclusions.

Technology firm Apple (AAPL.O) was holding $181.1 billion offshore, more than any other U.S. company, and would owe an estimated $59.2 billion in U.S. taxes if it tried to bring the money back to the United States from its three overseas tax havens, the study said.

More on Apple:

Fifty-seven of the companies disclosed that they would expect to pay a combined $184.4 billion in additional U.S. taxes if their profits were not held offshore. Their filings indicated they were paying about 6 percent in taxes overseas, compared to a 35 percent U.S. corporate tax rate, it said.

"Congress can and should take strong action to prevent corporations from using offshore tax havens, which in turn would restore basic fairness to the tax system, reduce the deficit and improve the functioning of markets," the study concluded.

(Reporting by David Alexander; Editing by Eric Beech)

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