Blog

The World Bank has a Tax Havens Problem

By Didier Jacobs

Last month, word got out that the World Bank’s Chief Economist Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg was planning to leave her position after just over a year on the job. It’s the second transition in leadership in the last few years—a troubling sign given Goldberg’s predecessor only lasted roughly the same amount of time.

But while Paul Romer’s departure was tied to the controversial Doing Business Index, the speculation is that Goldberg made her decision for a different reason: The withholding of a controversial new study that suggested that 5 percent of World Bank aid to governments may be leaking to tax havens.

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Counterfeit Companies: How Anonymous Companies Facilitate Illicit Trade

By Julia Keem

In 2017, a Colorado court convicted four individuals, including a former police officer, of racketeering, money laundering, and conspiracy for illegally selling counterfeit Denver Broncos merchandise as well as additional sports products from other professional and college teams around the country. A key element of the international counterfeiting scheme was the use of more than 20 anonymous companies.

This is just one of a number of schemes that were highlighted in a FACT Coalition report, titled “Anonymous Companies Help Finance Illicit Commerce and Harm American Businesses and Citizens,” which was published earlier this year. Authored by David M. Luna, a former U.S. national security official and current chair of the Anti-Illicit Trade Committee of the United States Council for International Business, the report reveals the harms imposed upon legitimate businesses, unwitting consumers, and even the United States military by anonymous companies engaging in the trade in counterfeit and pirated goods. Currently, these criminal entities operate with impunity in the United States and are able to circumvent the law with little risk of accountability. The report concludes that enacting legislation requiring the disclosure of beneficial ownership information is an essential measure to combat the increasingly prolific abuses perpetrated by these shadowy networks.

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Taxing Offshore Profits and Domestic Profits Equally Could Curb Corporate Tax Dodging

By Steve Wamhoff

In recent days, presidential candidates Sen. Kamala Harris and New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio have called for taxing corporate profits the same whether they are earned in the United States or abroad. These calls echo the position of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has long had a proposal along these lines. As ITEP has explained, correcting this inequity is not a mere detail but rather a sweeping reform that could end incentives for companies to shift profits and jobs offshore.

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How North Korea Abuses Anonymous Companies to Illicitly Procure Mercedes — and Weapons

By Tyler Morrow

The images of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Kim Jong-un waving from atop a Mercedes Benz limo have made the rounds on the internet over the past few days in the wake of a new study published by the Center for Advanced Defense Studies (C4ADS) and covered by the New York Times and CNN, among others. C4ADS research details how North Korea has evaded sanctions to secure luxury goods — and other more nefarious items — through its illicit finance operations.

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CEOs, Multinationals, and Small Businesses to Congress: End Anonymous Companies

By Clark Gascoigne

Business Support Continues to Grow for Corporate Ownership Transparency

A group of CEOs from major companies, a trade association of major multinational enterprises, and a small business trade group each called on Congress over the past week to end the abuse of anonymous shell companies, adding to the momentum to enact corporate ownership transparency legislation.

CEOs

A dozen current and former CEOs from major corporations (including Allianz, Chobani, Danone, Kering, and Unilever) sent a letter to Congress on Tuesday calling on lawmakers to end anonymous shell companies by enacting the bipartisan Corporate Transparency Act of 2019.

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Tax Day Highlights Broken Promises and a Need for Transparency

By Gary Kalman

On Tax Day 2019, the first year of data on corporate taxes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) are coming in.  Those who championed the corporate reforms promised, among other benefits, that the changes would end the offshore shell games by multinationals, profits stashed in tax havens would return to the U.S., and the new competitive rate would attract a flood of foreign direct investment.

Opponents of the new law, like the FACT Coalition and our members, argued that the incentives would have the opposite effect: the offshoring of profits would continue and the incentives might well create new (unhelpful) distortions influencing corporate behavior.

It is now time to look at what actually happened.  To get a better sense of the impact, consider the following recent excerpts from various news reports and analysis by tax experts.

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Rep. Doggett and Sen. Whitehouse Reintroduce Bill to End Offshore Tax Avoidance

By Lorena Roque

Last Thursday, Representative Lloyd Doggett and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse announced that they are reintroducing the “No Tax Breaks for Outsourcing Act.” Our international corporate tax rules have been a mess for a long time, and the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) failed to resolve the problems. The old rules and the new rules under TCJA both tax offshore corporate profits more lightly than domestic corporate profits, but in different ways. The No Tax Breaks for Outsourcing Act would create rules that tax domestic profits and foreign profits in the same way.

The old rules allowed American corporations to defer paying taxes on their offshore profits until those profits were officially brought to the U.S., which in many cases was never going to happen. The new rules, under TCJA, are also problematic because they exempt certain offshore profits and tax other offshore profits at just half the rate imposed on domestic profits.

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