U.S. corporations have lobbied aggressively in recent years for both a temporary tax holiday under which they would bring their foreign profits back to the United States and pay a much lower tax on them, as well as a permanent exemption of foreign profits from U.S. taxes (known as a “territorial” system). This week’s headlines about Apple’s reported use of offshore subsidiaries to lessen its U.S. tax bill have renewed the debate over these flawed ideas.
Multinational companies like Apple currently have a strong incentive to defer U.S. corporate taxes by shifting and keeping profits overseas (see chart). As we’ve explained, a territorial system would create greater incentives for those companies to invest and book profits overseas rather than at home — and that, in turn, risks reducing wages at home by encouraging investment to flow overseas, increasing budget deficits by draining revenues from the corporate income tax, or raising taxes on smaller companies and domestic businesses to offset the revenue loss.
Now, policymakers have begun to focus on the issue. The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has issued a report that highlights the tax planning gymnastics that companies undertake to shift profits to overseas tax havens in order to avoid U.S. taxes.
Armed with more information about how these incentives are creating unfair advantages for multinationals and draining much-needed tax revenue, the President and Congress should resist the lobbying campaign and instead focus on reducing the incentive to shift profits and operations overseas.
Members of the English Defence League took to the streets in response to the brutal attack and beheading of a British soldier by two Islamic terrorists on Wednesday. The EDL, a far-right movement opposing the spread of Islam in Britain, threw bottles at police in Woolwich, London, when they tried to intervene.
About 100 men, wearing shirts labeled “EDL” and carrying British flags, chanted anti-Muslim slogans.
"They’re chopping our soldiers’ heads off,” said EDL leader Tommy Robinson. “This is Islam. That’s what we’ve seen today. They’ve cut off one of our army’s heads off on the streets of London.”
The group gathered near the Woolwich Arsenal station as hundreds of police officers, including riot police, looked on.
"Our next generation are being taught through schools that Islam is a religion of peace. It’s not,” Robinson said. “It never has been. What you saw today is Islam. Everyone’s had enough. There has to be a reaction, for the government to listen, for the police to listen, to understand how angry this British public are."
The attack was condemned by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB).
"This is a truly barbaric act that has no basis in Islam and we condemn this unreservedly," the MCB said in a statement. "Our thoughts are with the victim and his family. We understand the victim is a serving member of the Armed Forces."
Two separate attacks on mosques led to arrests overnight. A 43-year-old man entered a Braintree, Essex, mosque holding a knife and was later arrested on suspicion of arson.
Another man in Kent was arrested for suspected racially aggravated criminal damage to a mosque on Canterbury Street, Gillingham.
"We absolutely condemn what happened in Woolwich, but it had nothing to do with us,” said Sikand Saleemy, secretary of the Essex mosque. “It was an appalling act of terror – but it wasn’t Islamic in any way. I wish it wasn’t described like that, because sadly people will now start to blame Muslims."
Budget cuts have had tragic consequences in the state of Oregon, where a woman stayed on the line with 911 for more than 10 minutes as her ex-boyfriend attempted to break into her home. She was told there was no one to send from either the Josephine County Sheriff’s office or the Oregon State Police. The man eventually got inside the house, and the woman was raped.
The Sheriff’s Department in Josephine County lost more than half of its funding when public safety budgets were cut. The cuts were a byproduct of government timber payments to counties with large national forests ending.
“There isn’t a day go by that we don’t have another victim,” said Josephine County Sheriff Gil Gilbertson.
In Josephine County, 80 percent of sheriff’s deputies lost their jobs when the cuts were made. The few that remain cannot respond to emergency calls during the evening or on weekends.
The sexual assault victim described above, who was not unidentified, called 911 last August. It was 4:15 a.m. on a Saturday when her ex-boyfriend, who was wanted by police for parole violations, attempted to break into her home. Her call was transfered to the Oregon State Police because there were no deputies on duty.
The dispatcher told the woman, “You know, obviously if he comes inside the residence and assaults you, can you ask him to go away? Or do you know if he’s intoxicated or anything?”
“I’ve already asked him,” the caller said. She told the dispatcher that he had hurt her in the past.
Four times the dispatcher tells her there is no one she can send to help.
The victim’s ex-boyfriend, Michael Bellah, ultimately pried open her front door with a piece of metal and attacked her. Eventually, he was arrested by state police. Bellah pleaded guilty to sexual assault, sodomy and other charges.
“There’s absolutely no consequences to committing a crime today given the fact that law enforcement is as weak as it is,” said Sheriff Gilbertson.
After budget cuts went into effect, Gilbertson issued a press release telling domestic violence victims to "consider relocating to an area with adequate law enforcement services."
Chris Mallette, who provides, social services and counseling to victims of domestic violence and rape, said many woman choose to stay with their abusers because law enforcement cannot help them.
“The whole system has crumbled, and we’re the only ones left. And we don’t have the badge, and we don’t have the gun,” Mallette said. “Because they’re more likely to get killed if they leave, and when they know that there’s not going to be a police response, they are a lot less likely to take those steps.”
AT&T has introduced a new "Mobility Administrative Fee" to its postpaid contracts. The $0.61 monthly fee ($7.32 per year) is being categorized "below the line" alongside tax and fees as an administrative surcharge. The fee came into effect on May 1st, and applies to all consumer contracts as well as "IRU" business contracts (business accounts where the user pays the bill).
It’s a small charge for the individual consumers, but given that AT&T’s postpaid subscriber base stands at over 70 million, the move will net AT&T hundreds of millions of dollars — somewhere around half a billion dollars, in fact. That’s a lot of extra revenue from one little charge.
it’s remarkable how quickly the storm of outrage over Apple’s epic tax avoidance has passed over Washington. All it took was for Apple CEO Tim Cook (2011 compensation: $378 million) to share some yuks with senators about their love for his company’s products (“I love Apple. I love Apple,” enthused Claire McCaskill) and to cast Apple’s extreme measures to avoid taxes (paying not a cent on $30 billion in global profits parked in an Irish subsidiary that has as much physical reality as a leprechaun) as a mere matter of subjective perspective: “The way that I look at this is there’s no shifting going on that I see at all,” Cook told John McCain. “I see this differently than you do, I believe.”
There’s one aspect of the Apple tax avoidance that I’m particularly surprised has been allowed to slip unscrutinized. As you’re probably aware, the Silicon Valley giants have been in Washington a lot of late for something other than explaining the postmodern relativism of tax liability: to lobby for immigration reform. They’re interested, in particular, in greatly expanding the number of H-1B visas, which Apple, Google, Facebook and the rest of the tech behemoths rely on to hire foreign software engineers. They need to bring these workers over from India, China and elsewhere, the companies say, because there simply aren’t enough qualified native ones being trained here at home. One of the biggest champions of this demand was none other than Steve Jobs, Cook’s predecessor, who made the pitch directly to President Obama in 2011. Sometimes, the companies phrase it euphemistically: The lack of H-1B visas, Google’s public policy shop explains, is “preventing tech companies from recruiting some of the world’s brightest minds.” Mark Zuckerberg was slightly more candid in his big Washington Post op-ed, throwing his weight behind immigration reform: “To lead the world in this new economy, we need the most talented and hardest-working people” (you hear that, Middle America?) And sometimes it comes out just plain awkward: “There are simply more smart Indians and Chinese than there are Americans,” Google CEO Eric Schmidt said over the weekend on CNN. (Yes, he is of course literally correct, sample size and all—there are more dumb people over there too!—but still…)
Ohio’s House Republicans last month passed a bill that would punish universities if they help students vote. Included in the regular budget, the proposal would force universities to charge out-of-state students the lower in-state tuition rate if the universities give the students a letter or utility bill proving they live at school. Ohio universities say that would cost them as much as $370 million each year.
To which Ohio’s House Speaker responded, verbatim, "That’s a rather gigantic amount of money, and I just couldn’t respond to it. I don’t know what to say."
Meanwhile Republicans in the Ohio Senate have desperately been trying to slam the brakes on their colleagues’ plan. For one thing, $370 million is truly a gigantic amount of money. For another, the House Republicans would create an incentive for more students to register to vote, and students tend to vote Democratic. It seems that Ohio’s House Republicans had not thought about that part, either. From a Cincinnati Enquirer editorial:
Backers of the bill say they are rethinking the proposal because they hadn’t considered the unintended consequences.
So it never occurred to them that making it easier for out-of-state students to get the lower in-state tuition rate — indeed, requiring it if they want to vote here — would not turn them away from voting but might in fact encourage them to vote, precisely to obtain the lower rate?