According to a recent study on the use of tax havens
in 2014, the 500 largest American companies hold more than $2.1 trillion in accumulated profits overseas to avoid U.S. taxes. About one quarter of that amount (549.7 billion) is hoarded abroad by ten tech companies alone, as our chart illustrates. Among them Apple has parked the largest amount of cash outside the United States. The iPhone maker hoards a whopping $181 billion overseas. That is almost twice as much as second-ranked Microsoft ($108.3b) and roughly three times the total of IBM, which ranks third in the tech-list with foreign cash holdings of $61.4 billion. Cisco, ranked fourth, stands out with as many as 59 tax haven subsidiaries.
The study, conducted by Citizens for Tax Justice and the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, notes that the number of tax haven subsidiaries is not directly connected to the amount of taxes dodged by a company. On the contrary, some companies now report fewer subsidiaries in tax haven countries than they did in 2008 while reporting significant increases in the amount of cash they hold abroad. The study offers two possible explanations for this occurrence: First of all some companies may choose not to report all of their subsidiaries because the SEC’s penalties for failing to do so are pretty lax and secondly companies could simply consolidate more income in fewer offshore subsidiaries, often in structures dubbed “Double Irish