Apple, Microsoft, Walmart and many other US corporate giants hoard cash in offshore tax havens to avoid paying taxes, an Oxfam report has claimed. The charity's report titled, Broken At The Top, puts the total amount of money stashed away at $1.4tn (£989bn, €1.24tn), which is more than the GDP of Spain, Mexico or Australia.
The revelations come as Oxfam analysed the finances of the 50 biggest public companies in the US. There is nothing to suggest the hoarding of cash in offshore havens violates any laws. In fact, many companies merely exploit legal loopholes to reduce their tax liabilities.
According to the report, Apple topped the list in amount of money stashed offshore. The iPhone-maker is believed to hold about $181bn offshore across three subsidiaries.
General Electric was second in the list with $119bn parked offshore across 118 tax haven subsidiaries. While computing giant Microsoft ranked third with $108bn, other companies in the top 10 included pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer, Google's parent company Alphabet and oil giant Exxon Mobil.
The revelations follow the recent Panama Papers leak and come just as the European Commission announced plans to ensure more transparency among larger corporate companies with regards to the locations where they pay taxes.
Oxfam said the commission's proposals were "almost useless" because they would not be able to track tax avoidance by these companies. It also urged the UK government to come up with stricter regulations to ensure corporate giants pay taxes in all the countries where they conduct business.
Robbie Silverman, senior tax advisor at Oxfam, said, "The same tricks and tools used by multinational companies to dodge tax in the US are being used to cheat countries across the world out of their fair share of tax revenues, with devastating consequences."
With regards to the effect of tax avoidance in poorer countries, Silverman added, "Poor countries are particularly hard hit, losing an estimated $100bn a year to corporate tax dodgers. This is enough to provide safe water and sanitation to more than 2.2 billion people."