Four of the biggest U.S. technology groups collectively hold an estimated $124 billion in U.S. Treasury debt, much of it offshore, earning them tax-free interest, the U.K.'s Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) said on Thursday.
The finding means Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Cisco Systems hold a large proportion of the $254.9 billion held in their foreign subsidiaries in U.S. Treasurys, according to securities filings reviewed by the London-based BIJ, a not-for-profit news organisation.
Bringing the money home would trigger a tax bill, so the companies keep it offshore, partly to fund foreign expansion but also, executives say, to avoid a tax hit.
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Democratic party Sen. Carl Levin, who has campaigned for years against tax avoidance, was quoted saying by the BIJ that if U.S. corporations invested offshore funds in U.S. government debt, this income should face U.S. taxes.