As our government hemorrhages its taxpayers’ funds to “bail out” firms that made poor decisions–such as American International Group (AIG), Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and American Express–a just-issued report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) raises a disturbing question: have many of the same firms already been avoiding paying their “fair share” of U.S. taxes by using offshore tax “havens”?
If so, whistleblowers will be performing a civic duty by reporting any tax evasion and noncompliance through the IRS Whistleblower Program.
“This report shows that some of our country’s largest companies and federal contractors, many of which are household names, continue to use offshore tax havens to avoid paying their fair share of taxes to the U.S. And some of those companies have even received emergency economic funds from the government,” said Sen. Byron Dorgan. “I think we should take action to shut down these tax dodgers and we will be introducing legislation to do just that.”
GAO’s findings included that:
Eighty-three of the 100 largest publicly traded U.S. corporations in terms of 2007 revenue reported having subsidiaries in jurisdictions listed as tax havens or financial privacy jurisdictions and 74 of the 83 had federal contracts in fiscal year 2007. For the 74 corporations, the amount of the federal contract obligations ranged from $12,000 to over $23 billion.
Several insurance companies, including American International Group Inc., Hartford Financial Services Group, Travelers Cos. Inc., Allstate Corp. and Berkshire Hathaway Inc. reportedly have subsidiaries in tax havens or financial privacy jurisdictions such as Bermuda and Switzerland.
With a “tax gap” of more than $350 billion each year–the amount owed but not paid in federal taxes–it is galling to most taxpayers to see any company that avoids paying its fair share now receive billions more in a “bailout” through the TARP program.
The GAO report did not state that any of the listed firms utilizing tax “havens” were necessarily violating current law. Sen. Dorgan did say that he planned to introduce legislation to “shut down these tax dodgers.”
Our firm’s former federal prosecutors at Finch McCranie, LLP have represented whistleblowers in the new IRS Whistleblower Program since it began.
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