Offshore Cash Hoards Expand

Big companies added $187 bln to overseas accounts in last year, Bloomberg says.

U.S. companies led by General Electric Co. and Pfizer Inc. stockpiled an additional $187 billion in untaxed overseas profits over the past year, boosting their offshore holdings by 18.4 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The 70 U.S.-based companies studied hold $1.2 trillion in profits around the world. GE and Pfizer have built up the most money outside the U.S., at $102 billion and $63 billion respectively, according to securities filings. Apple Inc., Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. were among the companies that increased their accumulated overseas profits by more than 40 percent in 2011.

Companies typically bring home money earned in high-tax jurisdictions that can be offset with foreign tax credits and keep profits earned in low-tax countries outside the U.S., said Edward Kleinbard, former chief of staff of the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation.

“The companies continue to reap the harvest of their years of aggressive tax planning to locate as much of their profits as possible in low-tax foreign jurisdictions,” he said.

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