Accounting, Business, Tax
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Tax competition stirs controversy

Barely a month after the European Commission ruled that Starbucks Corp. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV benefited from illegal tax deals from the Dutch and Luxembourg governments, cross-border tax avoidance will be the subject of yet more intense scrutiny after European Union lawmakers decided recently to quiz 11 multinational corporations over sweet-heart tax deals with governments.

Sophisticated tax avoidance schemes, under increasing political scrutiny as the likes of Apple Inc., Google Inc., and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. shift billions of dollars of profits out of higher-tax countries into low or no-tax jurisdictions, comes with a hefty price. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) conservatively estimates that profit shifting costs the world between US$100 billion and $240 billion in lost tax revenues. Another study revealed that the 500 largest U.S. companies hold more than US$2.1 trillion in accumulated profits offshore to avoid U.S. taxes, and would collectively owe approximately US$620 billion in U.S. taxes if they repatriated the funds.

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