Economic Outlook: Tax advantages

By ANTHONY HALL, United Press International  |  Jan. 30, 2013 at 9:41 AM
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There are few surprises in a congressional report on U.S. firms shifting profits to tax havens, except for the release date.

The Congressional Research Service report on tax havens released Tuesday falls under the category of, "We're just finding this out now?"

The study found that multinational U.S. corporations made a tidy profit of $940 billion overseas in 2008. Then, isolating five known tax havens, the study found multinational firms declared 43 percent of their overseas profits in Bermuda, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Ireland and the Netherlands, despite the fact that only about 4 percent of their work forces and 7 percent of their investments were in those locations.

Conversely, 40 percent of the multinationals' workforce and 34 percent of the investment involved Canada, Mexico, Germany, Great Britain and Australia. But only 14 percent of their profits were declared in those countries.

Give them an inch, right?

It turns out in the smaller countries studied multinational firms declare profits that, on average, amount to 33 percent of the gross domestic product of those countries. Profits declared in the larger countries amounted to 2 percent of their GDP.

In a separate report, the Census Bureau said service oriented businesses saw revenue growth across the board in 2011 with one exception -- the financial sector.

Revenue grew at a torrid 20.8 percent among Internet publishing and broadcasting and Web search portals. It grew a solid 3.5 percent to 6 percent elsewhere in the service sector.

Why pay attention? Services make up 55 percent of the U.S. GDP, the Census Bureau said.

In international markets Wednesday, the Nikkei 225 index in Japan gained 2.28 percent, while the Shanghai composite index in China rose 1 percent. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong climbed 0.71 percent, while the Sensex in India was flat, gaining 0.07 percent.

The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia rose 0.16 percent.

In midday trading in Europe, the FTSE 100 index in Britain slipped 0.14 percent, while the DAX 30 in Germany gave up 0.4 percent. The CAC 40 in France shed 0.41 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 600 lost 0.44 percent.

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