Robbie Silverman

Robbie Silverman is a Senior Advisor in Oxfam America’s Private Sector Department.

Revealing Big Pharma’s tax dodging: The story behind the numbers

Critics may argue the data we base our calculations on is incomplete, the methodology with which we calculate tax loss figures simplistic. And they are right.

Our tax loss estimates are rough because corporate secrecy limited our access to data. We analyzed information for only a small subset of the dozens of countries in which pharma corporations operate, and only a subset of their subsidiaries in those countries. The data we found is just the tip of the iceberg, especially for developing countries.

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Big-League Tax Dodging

The U.S.’s top 50 public corporations have $1.6 trillion stashed offshore, and current tax reform proposals by President Trump and Congressional leadership will only make the problem worse.
This week, millions of Americans are filing their tax returns and mailing Uncle Sam a check.   At the same time, the 50 biggest public companies in the U.S., including Pfizer, Goldman Sachs, GE, Chevron, Walmart, and Apple, are avoiding taxes while their huge pile of offshore cash grows.

In a new report called “Rigged Reform” Oxfam used corporate financial, lobbying, and investor disclosures to reveal that the 50 largest U.S. companies used an opaque and secretive network of at least 1,751 subsidiaries in tax havens to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.

Resisting calls to “drain the swamp,” these companies sink deep in the DC muck and mire—with eye-popping results.  The report, which updates Oxfam’s analysis from our “Broken at the Top” report last year, reveals that since 2009, these 50 companies alone have spent $2.5 billion in federal lobbying—almost $50 million for every member of Congress.  Oxfam estimates that for every $1 these companies spent lobbying on tax issues, they received an estimated $1,200 in tax breaks.

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