To help fix America's broken highways, President Barack Obama wants to tax corporate profits held offshore.
Based on recent estimates, there's enough money to fill a lot of potholes.
The proposal is contained in the White House's latest fiscal 2016 budget, which includes a 19 percent tax on companies' future foreign earnings and a one-time 14 percent tax on the estimated $2 trillion of profits current sitting in overseas investments out of the reach of the IRS.
Under current law, corporations don't pay income tax on profits not transferred back to U.S. accounts. The money can be held offshore as long as it's classified as indefinitely invested abroad. The so-called "transition tax" would be paid on profits sitting overseas now, rather than when companies choose to being profits back home.
The pot of money parked offshore has been growing rapidly as corporate profits have recovered since the end of the Great Recession. Last year, research firm Audit Analytics found that offshore profits invested overseas nearly doubled from 2008 to 2013, based on financial filings for companies listed in the Russell 1000 index.
A separate review of financial filings by Citizens for Tax Justice found that more nearly three-quarfters of Fortune 500 companies had set up more than 7800 separate tax havens as of 2013. The 30 companies with the most money booked offshore for tax purposes operated more than 1,300 tax subsidiaries.
The money is sitting in a handful of popular destinations for U.S. companies looking to minimize their tax bill. Two-thirds of companies with tax-haven subsidiaries have set them up in Bermuda or the Cayman Islands. The list of other popular tax havens includes the Netherlands, Singapore, Hong Kong and Luxembourg, according the the CTR analysis.