Articles Posted in Tax evasion

IMG_0065-300x164According to a report by the Guardian, British American Tobacco is being accused of attempting to evade over $700 million in taxes combined from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Kenya, Guyana, Brazil, Trinidad, and Tobago using a UK-based subsidiary to maneuver their profits.

British American Tobacco (BAT), based in London, is the largest tobacco company in the world. The Tax Justice Network reported that in 2016 alone BAT moved over $940 million in profit generated from overseas companies to BAT Holdings, the company’s UK subsidiary. Why? With BAT’s subsidiary based out of the UK, the company can enjoy a 19% tax fee which is significantly lower than in other countries. While this does not eliminate their taxes, it significantly reduces them.

Due to lenient tax laws, it appears that no illegal activity has occurred. However, in the report by the Tax Justice Network, it was quickly noted that BAT has been utilizing complex profit maneuvering to pull off its reduced tax fees. In total, the company appears to have over 100 offshore subsidiaries located in 19 known tax havens. The company’s finances also reveal a multitude of vague “operating charges”, interest fees, and royalties. In over 60-pages, the report by Tax Justice Network also noted additional mysterious transactions including IT charges, advisory fees, and technical fees.

Forty percent of today’s cross-border direct investments reported by the IMF – $18 trillion in value – are being booked in just 10 countries that offer corporate tax rates of 3 percent or less.

An independent international research organization, The Corporate Tax Haven Index, has published a report https://www.corporatetaxhavenindex.org/introduction/cthi-2019-results , which was named the United Kingdom and a handful of OECD countries as the jurisdictions most responsible for the breakdown of the global corporate tax system. The United Kingdom, says the report, is mostly responsible through its controlled network of satellite jurisdictions. These countries undermine the ability of governments across the world to meaningfully tax multinational corporations. Over $500 billion in corporate tax is dodged each year globally by multinational corporations. Forty per cent of today’s cross-border direct investments reported by the IMF – $18 trillion in value – are being booked in just 10 countries that offer corporate tax rates of 3 percent or less.

The Corporate Tax Haven ranks countries based on the degree to which it enables corporate tax avoidance. Each country’s corporate tax haven score is then combined with the scale of corporate activity in the country to determine the share of global corporate activity put at risk of tax avoidance by the country. The greater the share of global corporate activity the higher it ranks on the index.

tax evasionAccording to a list by Oxfam, a charitable organization that works to alleviate global poverty, Bermuda is the worst corporate tax haven in the world. Joining Bermuda on this list are fourteen other tax havens, which include the Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands. But, what makes Bermuda stand out among the others noted on this list?

Creating The List

Oxfam did not take the creation of this list lightly. In order to determine the tax havens that belonged on the list, Oxfam carefully researched numerous factors, including the presence of exceptionally low or nonexistent corporate tax rates and unfair tax incentives. Oxfam also took into consideration the cooperation, or lack of cooperation, of these tax havens in regards to international regulations designed to combat tax evasion. During its extensive research, Oxfam found that Bermuda and other British territories were among the worst tax havens in the world. This is especially true when considering the United State’s use of these tax havens.

Bermuda-300x225Bermuda was placed on an updated blacklist as a non-cooperative tax jurisdiction by the European Union. The EU hopes that this will inspire Bermuda, as well the other captive domiciles on the list, to take the concept of tax evasion and avoidance seriously, and keep globe financial in order.

Bermuda is listed alongside Aruba, Barbados, Guam, Vanuatu, and the US Virgin Islands. The creation of the updated EU blacklist was a result of a European Commission directed research and investigation. This time there were 10 new countries added to the updated list, which means 15 total jurisdictions are currently on it.

The general criteria for the EU blacklist involves three things. The first was tax transparency, which makes all financial actions easily visible in order to avoid any chance of hidden corruption. The second is good governance that will assure all financial actions are being monitored efficiently by a selected party. The third is the rate of economic activity and the verification of that activity to assure that there is a real, steady, and prospering economic flow.

tax havenReports from London have shown that nearly a third of the billionaires located in Britain plan to or have already moved to areas considered tax havens. In addition to this sudden shift, there is also talk of an investigation into political party bankrolling from those that have chosen to relocate, as well as the delay in a vote involving the end of secret company ownership in offshore territories.

According to the Times news, 28 out of the 93 recorded British billionaires have been found through public record to have moved or been in the process of moving to a tax haven within the last decade.

Tax havens are locations in the world in which taxation is extremely light or sometimes even non-existent. Examples of these are the Channel Islands or countries like Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates that pay little to no tax.

NC-health-care-fraud-300x199Mental health company owner, Catinia Denise Farrington of Cyprus, Texas, pleaded guilty to health care fraud and tax evasion in September of 2018. As of March 1st, 2019, she has been sentenced to 60 months in prison after profiting $4 million from Medicaid and just under $400,000 from her tax evasion scheme.

Health Care Fraud Conspiracy

According to prosecutors, Farrington owned a mental health care company out of North Carolina, Durham County Mental Health and Behavioral Health Services, LLC. Through this company, she submitted thousands of fraudulent claims to Medicaid for services that were never performed. These incidents occurred between 2011 and 2015, but this is not the only fraudulent activity that Farrington participated in during this time.

Google-tax-evasion-300x200Google, a renowned international technology company, was found to be using a Dutch shell company in order to reduce its foreign tax bill in 2017 by shifting $24 billion, 19.9 billion euros, of its revenue from royalties to Bermuda. The amount shifted in 2017 through the Netherlands was 4 billion euros more than what was documented in 2016. This information is according to documents filed at the Dutch Chamber of Commerce.

To further explain how this worked, Google used the subsidiary in the Netherlands, Google Netherlands Holdings BV, to shift their revenue made outside of the United States, their home country, to an affiliated base in Bermuda, which is essentially a known tax haven where companies are not required to pay an income tax. This base is called Google Ireland Holdings, and the tax strategy used here is known as the “Double Irish, Dutch Sandwich”. Surprisingly, this is a legal strategy which has allowed Google, who is owned by Alphabet, to avoid US income taxes and European withholding taxes, saving a large portion of their overseas profits.

When addressed through calls and emails about this shifting situation, Google stated that “We pay all of the taxes due and comply with the tax laws in every country we operate in around the world,” and continued in detail to say “Google, like other multinational companies, pays the vast majority of its corporate income tax in its home country, and we have paid a global effective tax rate of 26% over the last 10 years.”

tax havenThe Sackler family empire comprises Purdue in America, Napp in Britain, and Mundipharma in Europe and Australasia. The companies have helped amass a £10 billion fortune, protected, in part, by the tax haven of Bermuda.

The Evening Standard in the UK released a report detailing that while their opioid painkillers are manufactured in Cambridge, the Caribbean is actually the heart of the Sacklers’ tax avoidance strategy. They report the Sackler family has allegedly diverted billions of pounds in profit to Bermuda to avoid paying millions in taxes that would have been due to the UK or Europe.

The Investigation into Opioid Companies

Turkish-journalist-sentenced-300x200After a lawsuit was filed against investigative journalist, Pelin Ünker, for her reporting on the Paradise Papers, an Istanbul court has found her guilty of defaming Turkey’s former Prime Minister, Binali Yildirim. For speaking against Yildirim and reporting on his confirmed offshore activities, Ünker has been sentenced to thirteen months in jail and a substantial fee. However, this unjust ruling is truly unique, as it appears to have involved several political motivations in an effort to send a message to other Turkish journalists and silence similar reports in the future.

The Paradise Papers

But, what exactly are the Paradise Papers? The Paradise Papers are essentially a vast collection of leaked documents including emails, deeds, loan agreements, financial statements, and additional documents that reveal how several politicians, celebrities, and entire corporations stored hidden profits in offshore tax havens. The documents were initially leaked to a German newspaper from offshore service providers. However, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) agreed to review the documents before publishing any written work on the released documents. This movement brought together the investigative journalists and media partners of six continents; Pelin Ünker was one of these journalists.

Sprint will pay $330 million to settle a False Claims Act case filed by the New York Attorney General alleging that Sprint knowingly failed to collect and remit more than $100 million in state and local sales taxes owed on its flat-rate wireless calling plans sold to New Yorkers. The $330 million recovery is not only the largest-ever recovery by the New York Attorney General resulting from an action filed under the New York False Claims Act, but it is the largest-ever recovery by a single state in an action brought under a state false claims act.

“Sprint knew exactly how New York sales tax law applied to its plans – yet for years the company flagrantly broke the law, cheating the state and its localities out of tax dollars that should have been invested in our communities,” said Attorney General Underwood. “Now, Sprint will pay the price with this record-setting settlement. This should serve as a clear reminder that the New York False Claims Act protects New Yorkers from companies that attempt to flout their obligations under New York tax law.”

The $330 million settlement announced today resolves this tax enforcement action under the New York False Claims Act brought by the Attorney General. At least twenty-nine states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government have passed False Claims Acts, laws which allow whistleblowers and the government to recover treble damages from companies or individuals that defraud the government. However, only the New York False Claims Act broadly covers all types of tax fraud.