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US group says Microsoft ‘pretending’ on earnings - 12/12/2005 8:43:36 AM   
WinThusiast


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The head of a US tax-research group has accused software firm Microsoft of “pretending it makes all of its money in Ireland" in order to pay minimal tax.

Attention has focused on how some multinational firms use Ireland to book large profits, which are taxed at the Irish corporation-tax rate of 12.5 per cent, rather than 35 per cent in the United States. Microsoft and other multinationals have said they are fully tax compliant.

However, Bob McIntyre, the director of Washington-based Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ), said his group has had concerns about the tax regime in Ireland for some time. “Everyone knows there is an issue here,” he said. “It doesn't just involve Microsoft and Ireland.

“There are a lot of these tax havens and a lot of companies use them. But this one is even bigger than the rest.”

On its website, CTJ says it gives “ordinary people a greater voice in the development of tax laws'‘.

The group campaigns on a number of tax-related issues, including corporation tax avoidance. McIntyre estimated that American companies which claim that large proportions of their profits are made overseas are costing the US about $70 billion each year.

“That's a lot of money even for us,” he said. CTJ wants legislative changes that would make it impossible for US companies to book profits overseas from so-called ‘intangibles', including abstract assets such as copyrights, patents and intellectual property.

McIntyre also said that US authorities should also enforce existing laws more strongly.

“The rules are not too well enforced.

“A lot of the stuff that is going on at the moment may not be legal, but very little is done to stop it.”

However, McIntyre does not hold out much hope for change in the short-term, largely because the Republican Party holds a majority in both houses of the US Congress.

“The Republicans admire people who can avoid tax, unless the person happens to be poor. Then they don't like it.” 


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