Avoiding taxes is all the rage these days, especially among major companies.
Ikea and eBay are two of the latest to face scrutiny over accusations that they’re avoiding taxes while still profiting in the country. The claims come after a Reuters investigation revealed that Starbucks paid no corporate income taxes in the UK over the past three years, even though the coffee chain made 1.2 billion pounds in the country during that period.
eBay only paid about 1 million pounds in taxes to the British government, despite making nearly 800 million pounds in the country during the year, the Sunday Times reports. The scheme may seem outrageous, but it’s not really at all; the online retailer is legally avoiding taxes by funneling its money through Luxembourg and Switzerland.
Ikea allegedly managed to cut its UK tax bill in half by sending profits off to another country in the form of payments to a sister company, according to the Guardian. Ikea has been accused of avoiding taxes in other ways too; the company’s finances are set up in such a way that allows some of its profits to go to a charity, minimizing Ikea’s tax bill and greatly benefitting the furniture chain’s founder and his family, according to a 2006 investigation by The Economist.
Though UK lawmakers are increasing scrutiny on corporate tax evasion, the issue extends across the pond as well. Thirty of America’s most profitable companies paid less than zero in income taxes between 2008 and 2010, according to a report from the Citizens for Tax Justice released last year.
Corporate tax avoidance also has become a flashpoint on the presidential campaign trail. Republican nominee Mitt Romney has proposed a territorial tax system, which would allow companies not to pay very much in taxes on what they earn overseas. Under the current system, companies are responsible for paying taxes on the money they earn overseas, a system that multinational companies sometimes exploit.
Vice President Joe Biden slammed Romney’s proposal in his speech at the Democratic National Convention in March, saying it would create 800,000 jobs -- all of them overseas. As it turns out, that claim may have been a bit overblown.
Also on HuffPost:
Dwayne "Lil Wayne" Carter
Lil Wayne had an IRS lien filed with Miami Dade County in late March 2011. The lien <a href="http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1661259/lil-wayne-tax-lien-irs.jhtml" target="_hplink">noted</a> that Lil Wayne had unpaid income taxes amounting to $3,351,078 for 2008 and $2,258,956 for 2009.
Dent was hit with a $1,160,056 federal tax lien in March 2011. The former Chicago Bears player was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame one month prior.
In January 2012, Lindsay Lohan reportedly received notice from the IRS that she owed over $93,000 in unpaid taxes from 2009. According to TMZ, the actress was simply unaware of the issue.
David "Sinbad" Adkins
<a href="http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2010/02/14/feeling-heat-from-irs-sinbad-will-sell-la-home/" target="_hplink">According to AOL Real Estate</a>, Sinbad was said to owe $8.5 million to the IRS in 2010 and another $2.1 million to the state of California that year. Sinbad was named as <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/04/12/sinbad-taxes-embarrassmen_n_185976.html" target="_hplink">one of the state's biggest tax evaders</a> in 2009.
In 2008, former Met and Yankee Darryl Strawberry <a href="http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2008/02/darryl_strawberry_agrees_to_pa.html" target="_hplink">agreed to pay</a> more than $430,000 in back taxes he owed, plus interest and penaltie, for money he neglected to pay in 1989 and 1990.
Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne
According to the IRS, Ozzy Osbourne and his wife Sharon owed $1.7 million in taxes from 2008 and 2009.
Actor Forest Whitaker <a href="http://www.bvonmoney.com/2011/03/23/forest-whitaker-having-significant-tax-problems/" target="_hplink">was hit</a> with a large tax bill last year, after failing to pay $185,000 he owed to the IRS. The tax collectors in the Los Angeles County Recorder of Deeds cited Whitaker and filed a lien for the balance.
Actor Chris Tucker had a <a href="http://newsone.com/1883935/wow-chris-tucker-now-owes-over-12-million-in-taxes/" target="_hplink">tax lien filed against him in the state of Georgia earlier this year</a> for $592,594.08, plus $11,571,909.26 from the federal government for taxed owed in 2001, 2002 and 2004 through 2006.
"Baywatch" actress Pamela Anderson owed nearly half a million dollars to the IRS in 2010.
In 1974, comedian Richard Pryor was sentenced to 10 days in jail, fined and put on probation after pleading guilty to a charge of willful failure to file an income tax return, according to <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/11/arts/11pryor.html?pagewanted=3&_r=1&ei=5090&en=ea88c61b92de25e6&ex=1291957200" target="_hplink">the <em>New York Times</em></a>.
Singer El DeBarge <a href="http://www.vibe.com/posts/nas-irs-debt-totals-more-3-million" target="_hplink">owed $354,000 in delinquent federal taxes</a> in 2010, according to Vibe.com.
Sammy Davis, Jr.
Davis <a href="http://www.esquire.com/the-side/feature/destroyed-by-the-irs#ixzz1rYjZPHxQ" target="_hplink">owed nearly $7.5 million in back taxes</a> at the time of his death.
"Pan Am" actress Christina Ricci was hit with a federal income tax lien of nearly $180,000 on her 2008 earnings.
In December 2010, actor Wesley Snipes <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-20025363-504083.html" target="_hplink">began a three-year prison sentence</a> for failing to file income tax returns in the amount of $7 million.