American corporations are paying their fair share – to international tax havens

uncle sam taxes
  • President Joe Biden wants to increase the corporate tax rate, and the US is working on a global minimum tax.
  • Right now, US multinational companies are reporting the majority of their foreign profits in tax havens.
  • A global minimum tax would make taxes around the world more uniform for those companies.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

When asked if corporations pay their fair share in federal taxes, two-thirds of respondents in a 2018 Gallup poll said they pay too little. In fact, Gallup found “the public consistently thinks that ‘upper-income people’ and corporations do not pay their fair share in federal taxes.”

In recent months, one of the people calling out corporate taxes paid – or lack thereof – has been President Joe Biden.

“I’m not trying to punish anybody, but damn it, maybe it’s because I come from a middle-class neighborhood, I’m sick and tired of ordinary people being fleeced,” Biden said in a recent speech. He’s also taken aim at 55 multinational companies that paid no income tax last year, citing a report from the left-leaning Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

As president, he’s trying to do something about it, proposing a suite of tax changes as part of his infrastructure package under which corporations would see their taxes climb from 21% to 28%, although he may well compromise at 25%.

Also, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has been calling for a global minimum corporate tax rate, and is working with the G20 on it. Essentially, this would be a nonbinding rate for multinational companies – meaning that corporations would be disincentivized from leaving one country for another with more favorable tax rates.

The truth is multinationals are still paying taxes, but they’re increasingly paying into international tax havens such as Bermuda and Singapore.

“According to the US Treasury, of the top 10 foreign countries in which US multinationals report profits, seven are tax havens,” the note said. “These are relatively small economies: Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Singapore and Switzerland.”

According to the note, those smaller economies still represented 60% of the foreign income multinationals reported in 2019 – “more than 1.5 times the rest of the world.” In 2000, that amount was closer to 30%.

Screen Shot 2021 04 20 at 2.00.35 PM
Chart via BofA Research.

The chart notes that the 2017 Tax Cuts and Job Acts (TCJA) – Trump’s signature tax package – did include a few measures meant to discourage this “profit sharing.” That’s the same package that included a decrease of the corporate tax rate to 21% from 35%. After its passage, the amount of money pouring into these tax havens leveled out, and was no longer rising, “but the share did not decrease meaningfully and so profit shiſting remains a major concern.”

Biden’s Made in America Tax Plan specifically targets profit shifting, and “would also eliminate the tax laws
embedded in the 2017 TCJA that incentivize the offshoring of assets,” according to the Department of Treasury.

Before a global minimum tax passes, it would need OECD members to agree on a framework for the policies they want to implement. As BofA notes, a few major tax havens are in the EU, which would have to pass any proposal unilaterally. And there could be resistance in America, with at least one Republican – Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) – speaking out against it.

But change is probably still on the way.

“What is clearer, in our view, is that the current political environment is ripe for progress on the issue,” BofA said. “Given the rise in global debt because of the pandemic and the fiscal response, taxes will likely have to increase in many countries. The US probably has the most leeway to continue running large deficits, but it is leading the charge on the global minimum tax.”

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WATCH: How small businesses can master their taxes in 2021

Filing taxes might be a bit different for small business owners this year. Many were greatly impacted by months of mandatory closures, lost essential revenue, civil unrest, government loans and grants, and layoffs. 

To find out what all these things mean for your taxes, small business reporter Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins talked with tax expert panelists. They covered how the pandemic, PPP loans, and revenue losses could impact your filings. 

Meet our panelists: 

Robbin Caruso is a partner in the tax department and the co-leader of the National Tax Controversy group of Prager Metis.

Nicole Davis is the founder and principal of Butler-Davis, a tax and accounting firm located outside of Atlanta, GA. 

Rick Lazio is the senior vice president of alliantgroup and a former US representative.

Topics covered: 

At 1:57 we go over basics like who is considered a small business and what the tax filing deadlines are depending on your business license. 

At 14:16 panelists explain what business owners should know about PPP loans and other types of federal aid and how those can affect your taxes. 

At 23:09 we cover how government-mandated closures affect business taxes,  what to do if your business deferred payroll taxes in 2020, and what pandemic-related expenses businesses can claim. 

At 33:00 panelists explain new, existing, and updated tax credits and incentives, including the Employee Retention Credit (ERC) and Research and Development (R&D) credits. 

And at 46:33 we go into a Q&A to respond to viewers’ questions as well as hear a few more tips from our panelists. 

Watch the full webinar above. For more information on filing your taxes as a small business, check out additional coverage below. 

Read the original article on Business Insider