The largest U.S.-based companies expanded their untaxed offshore stockpiles by $183 billion in the past year, increasing such holdings by 14.4 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Microsoft Corp., Apple Inc. and Google Inc. each added to their non-U.S. holdings by more than 34 percent as they reaped the benefits of past maneuvers to earn and park profits in low-tax countries. Combined, those three companies alone plan to keep $134.5 billion outside the U.S. government’s reach, more than double the $59.3 billion they held two years earlier.
It excluded companies such as Eaton Corp. Plc that now have foreign parents, and it also excluded United Technologies Corp., which disclosed a $22 billion balance this year and hadn’t reported the numbers before then.
Las Vegas Sands in 2012, according to its filing, repatriated $1.37 billion tax-free because it had enough foreign tax credits. The company said it would consider future foreign earnings not to be indefinitely reinvested, and its total accumulated earnings declined to $4.3 billion from $5.6 billion the year before.
“They’re using the law to their advantage, as all companies do,” Atkinson said. “And it’s easier to do that with intangible income.”