Tag Archives: Nike

Study: 73 percent of Fortune 500 companies playing offshore shell game

More than 73 percent of Fortune 500 companies maintained subsidiaries in offshore tax havens in 2015, according to “Offshore Shell Games.”

The new study was released this week by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

Collectively, multinationals reported booking $2.5 trillion offshore, with just 30 companies accounting for 66 percent of this total.

By indefinitely stashing profits in offshore tax havens, corporations are avoiding up to $717.8 billion in U.S. taxes.

“Corporate tax dodging may be legal, but it’s certainly not good for everyday taxpayers and responsible small businesses,” Michelle Surka, advocate with U.S. Public Interest Research Group, said in a news release. “It disadvantages small businesses that don’t have scores of tax lawyers, creates an economic environment that favors accounting tricks over innovation and real productivity, and forces the rest of us to foot the bill. We’re beginning to see a growing international interest in cracking down on corporate tax dodging, and with $717.8 billion on the line, it’s time for the United States to start doing the same.”

“Every year, corporations collectively report that they have tens of billion more in cash stashed offshore than they did the year before, “ added Matthew Gardner of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. “The hard fact is that the U.S. tax code incentivizes tax haven abuse by allowing companies to indefinitely defer taxes on offshore profits until they are ‘repatriated.’ The only way to end this kind of tax avoidance is by closing the loopholes in the tax code that enable it.”

Key findings of the report:

• 367 Fortune 500 companies collectively maintain 10,366 tax haven subsidiaries. The 30 companies with the most money booked offshore for tax purposes collectively operate 2,509 tax haven subsidiaries.
• 58 percent of companies with any tax haven subsidiaries registered at least one in Bermuda or the Cayman Islands, countries with no corporate tax. The profits that American multinationals collectively claim to earn in these island nations totals 1,884 percent and 1,313 percent, respectively of each country’s entire yearly economic output, an impossible feat.
• The 30 companies with the most money booked offshore for tax purposes collectively hold nearly $1.65 trillion overseas. That is 66 percent of the nearly $2.5 trillion that Fortune 500 companies together report holding offshore.
• Only 58 Fortune 500 companies disclose what they would expect to pay in U.S. taxes if these profits were not officially booked offshore.In total, these 58 companies would owe $212 billion in additional federal taxes, equal to the entire state budgets of California, Virginia and Indiana combined. The average tax rate the 58 companies currently pay to other countries on this income is a mere 6.2 percent, implying that most of it is booked to tax havens.

The study highlights the following companies:

Apple: Apple has booked $214.9 billion offshore — more than any other company. It would owe $65.4 billion in U.S. taxes if these profits were not officially held offshore for tax purposes. A recent ruling by the European Commission found that Apple used a tax haven structure in Ireland to pay a rate of just 0.005 percent on its European profits in 2014, and has required that the company pay $14.5 billion in back taxes to Ireland, where the company was paying significantly less than even the tax haven’s standard low tax rate. A U.S. Senate investigation in 2013 uncovered Apple’s two Irish subsidiaries that were tax residents of neither the United States, where they are managed and controlled, nor Ireland, where they are incorporated.
Nike: The sneaker giant officially holds $10.7 billion offshore for tax purposes on which it would owe $3.6 billion in U.S. taxes. This implies Nike pays a mere 1.4 percent tax rate to foreign governments on those offshore profits, indicating that nearly all of the money is officially held by subsidiaries in tax havens. The shoe company, which operates 931 retail stores throughout the world, does not operate one in Bermuda.
Goldman Sachs: Goldman Sachs reports having987 subsidiaries in offshore tax havens, 537 of which are in Bermuda despite not operating a single legitimate office in that country, according to its own website. The bank officially holds $28.6 billion offshore.
The report concludes that to end tax haven abuse, Congress should end incentives for companies to shift profits offshore, close the most egregious offshore loopholes, strengthen tax enforcement and increase transparency.

Big brands celebrate LGBT Pride

As LGBT Americans commemorate June as Pride Month, many of the nation’s most recognizable brands are showcasing their support for equality through high profile LGBT-centered advertisements and social media promotions, according to a survey from the Human Rights Campaign.

In the past, most companies and brands rarely — if ever — used LGBT-specific themes in marketing or advertisements.

Today, businesses recognize that it is incredibly unpopular to be anti-gay, and in fact, now view a pro-equality stance as a way to entice the millions of fair-minded Americans who champion LGBT civil rights as an important issue, according to HRC.

Adding to this have been the phenomenal flops from opponents of equality who have attempted to curb corporate LGBT advocacy.

The so-called National Organization for Marriage, which advocates against equal rights for LGBT people, has undertaken multiple failed boycott campaigns in recent years against companies that support equality.  The group’s calls for boycotts against Starbucks and General Mills — after the companies endorsed marriage equality initiatives in Washington and Minnesota, respectively — had no lasting impact on sales. NOM’s calls to “Dump Starbucks” and “Dump General Mills” actually only emboldened the corporate giants to be more vocal in their support for equality, with the Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz telling a disgruntled shareholder, “If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38 percent you got last year, it’s a free country. You can sell your shares of Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much.”

Some of the more visible brands and their LGBT Pride campaigns:

• Marriott International made news with its #LoveTravels campaign featuring images of prominent LGBT spokespeople wrapped around hotels, in print ads and billboards, as well as widespread social media promotion. 

• Macy’s partnered with HRC to celebrate Pride Month, and will feature new HRC merchandise at select locations across the country.

• Apple continues to show its support for the LGBT community with a featured station on iTunes Radio, celebrating LGBT Pride through music. The iTunes Store is also offering a collection of LGBT-themed movies, apps, music, books, and more. Many Apple employees and their families will be marching in the San Francisco Pride Parade later this month.

• Honey Maid changed its profile picture on its social media platforms to a modified version of HRC’s logo featuring two graham crackers as the equal sign.

• Google has continued its tradition of adding a rainbow-colored border to its search bar when users search for LGBT-related terms like “LGBT” and “marriage equality.”

•Designer Kenneth Cole is raising awareness for LGBT equality with limited edition t-shirts featuring the red HRC equal sign logo inlaid with the text, “Unite The States of America … Support Marriage Equality for all of U.S.”

• AT&T has launched its second annual “Live Proud” campaign inviting users to create and upload their own memes in celebration of awareness, empowerment and pride.

• Nike has released a limited edition #BETRUE apparel line to celebrate the LGBT community.

• Levi’s launched a whole Pride Month collection devoted to celebrating over 30 years of support for the LGBT community. 

• General Mills is using Lucky Charms as the face of its Pride promotions, and launched a web video that encourages social media followers to tweet and post their reasons why they’re proud using the hashtag #LuckyToBe.

• Ice cream giant Ben & Jerry’s shared Pride themed images on social media with the slogan, “Love Comes in All Flavors.”

•Nordstrom asked its LGBT and allied employees to share their thoughts on Pride Month in a photo montage on the store’s website. 

Starbucks endorses marriage equality

Starbucks this week joined the list of Washington-based companies backing a marriage equality bill in the state.

The legislation has the support of the governor and enough votes for passage in both the house and the senate.

The legislation also has support from some of the state’s most prominent corporations, including Microsoft and Nike.

This week, Starbucks joined the club.

A statement from company VP Kalem Holmes to partners across the United States read:

“Starbucks is proud to join other leading Northwest employers in support of Washington State legislation recognizing marriage equality for same-sex couples. Starbucks strives to create a company culture that puts our partners first, and our company has a lengthy history of leading and supporting policies that promote equality and inclusion.

“This important legislation is aligned with Starbucks business practices and upholds our belief in the equal treatment of partners. It is core to who we are and what we value as a company. We are proud of our Pride Alliance Partner Network group, which is one of the largest Employer Resource Groups for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) employees in the U.S., helping to raise awareness about issues in the communities where we live and work.

“For the last 20 years, our benefits program has offered domestic partner benefits in the U.S. These benefits include medical, dental, vision, prescription drugs and alternative health care coverage. All partners (part-time and full-time) in all work locations, whether in a store, a roasting plant or a corporate office, adhere to the same eligibility requirements for health coverage and have access to the same comprehensive health plans.

“We are deeply dedicated to embracing diversity and treating one another with respect and dignity, and remain committed to providing an inclusive, supportive and safe work environment for all of our partners.

We look forward to seeing this legislation enacted into law.”

Microsoft, Nike back marriage equality in Washington state

Microsoft and Nike on Jan. 19 in endorsed legislation to legalize same-sex marriage in Washington state.

Marriage equality bills have been introduced in the Washington House and Senate and endorsed by Gov. Chris Gregoire.

Hearings on the bills could take place early next week. In the House, enough votes exist for passage, but the bill is a vote short in the Senate. 

Earlier this week, Washington’s Catholic bishops posted their opposition to the marriage equality bill in a letter on the Archdiocese of Seattle website and urged Church members to lobby lawmakers.

Corporate support for the marriage bill includes Microsoft, Vulcan, Real Networks, Nike, Group Health and Concur. In a joint letter to Gregoire, the top officers of the corporations said, “We write you today to show the support of our respective companies for SB 6239 and HB 2516 recognizing marriage equality for same-sex couples.”

Microsoft also released a statement: “Microsoft is joining other Northwest employers … in support of Washington State legislation recognizing marriage equality for same-sex couples. This position builds on our history of supporting corporate and public policies that promote inclusion and equality.

“Microsoft’s greatest asset is a talented workforce as diverse as our customers. As other states recognize marriage equality, Washington’s employers are at a disadvantage if we cannot offer a similar, equitable and inclusive environment to our talented employees, our top recruits and their families. This legislation would put Washington employers on equal footing with employers in the six other states that already recognize the committed relationships of same-sex couples. Passing the bill would be good for our business and for the state’s economy.”