Mar 142012

We often hear about wealthy individuals finding loop holes in the tax system by storing their money in offshore banks. Companies, as legal entities, also have tools to pay less taxes. The corporate tax rate in the US is 35%. But a lot of companies get away with a much lower rate. Below is a graph from explaining how it works, known in some cases to be called the Double Irish strategy.

Giant tech companies have huge influence in our political system and they hire oodles of talented lawyers and accountants, and compensates them very well to make sure the companies are saving as much money as they can in the long run. Canada’s corporate tax rate is usually below 30% depending on the province. And our government wants to lower it some more to encourage entrepreneurs to do businesses here, but now we know it’s not that simple. Corporations could still end up paying more taxes here than in the US despite our lower tax rate.

According to this bloomberg article, US companies now hold over $1.2 trillion in profits around the world, that’s $1,200,000,000,000. GE and Pfizer have $102 billion and $63 billion respectively (゜o゜) Companies like Apple, Google, and Microsoft have increased their accumulated overseas profits by more than 40% last year. This creates a bit of a dilemma. Companies have lots of money to innovate, to spend on R&D, and to create jobs inside the US (which is what everyone wants, including us Canadians.) But they don’t want to repatriate their offshore money back into the States, because they would be forced to pay the full corporate tax rate on worldwide profits, maximum being 35%. It’s similar to how I can use an RRSP (401K plan) to defer my taxes. There’s no point redeeming my RRSPs if I’m currently still working, saving, and in the highest tax bracket. Companies are the same way. They are making so much money right now the US stock market is hitting multi-year highs (+_+) 

There are lots of different opinions out there on how to improve the economy and lower unemployment. One particularly interesting idea is a tax holiday for companies to bring back some of their profits from lower-tax countries, without facing such a hefty tax penalty. Personally I would rather see this happen than another round of quantitative easing.  Why not make use of all that money sitting on the sidelines (^_^) 

  • R&D – Research and Development. Developing new ideas or products.
  • repatriate – Send something (money) back to it’s original country.


Random Useless Fact: There are 2.3 billion internet users around the world.