Tax evasion by multinational corporations costs the U.S. economy $111 billion every year, U.K.-based NGO Oxfam has said in a new report.
"The gap between rich and poor is reaching new extremes. ... Just 62 individuals now have the same wealth as 3.6 billion people -- half of humanity," Oxfam claimed on Thursday. The report comes at a time when tax avoidance has become a hot topic following the leak of the Panama Papers revealing the activities of global corporations in offshore practices. Oxfam named the 50 largest public U.S. companies that it claimed were avoiding tax and paying billions of dollars to "lobbyists to influence federal policy." "For every $1 spent on lobbying, these 50 companies collectively received $130 in tax breaks and more than $4,000 in federal loans, loan guarantees and bailouts," the report said. "These companies relied on an opaque and secretive network of more than 1,600 disclosed subsidiaries in tax havens to stash about $1.4 trillion offshore," it explained.
The U.S.-based global tech giant Apple was at the top of the list with $181 billion held in four offshore accounts, while it received $21 billion in tax breaks.
General Electric was said to have $119 billion in 18 offshore subsidiaries, while it spent $161 million in lobbying and received $40 billion in tax breaks and $28 billion in federal loans, bailouts and loan guarantees. Microsoft, known for its owner Bill Gates' philanthropy, was third on the list with $108 billion held in five offshore accounts, while it received $22 billion in tax breaks and spent $57 million in lobbying.
"Tax dodging ... saps an estimated $100 billion every year from poor countries, preventing crucial investments in education, healthcare, infrastructure and other forms of poverty reduction," Oxfam said in its report. "Profits disappear from countries where real economic activity is taking place to exist only in tax havens. In 2012, U.S. companies reported $80 billion of profits in Bermuda -- more than their reported profits in Japan, China, Germany and France combined," it added.