The company with the most profits parked overseas is General Electric, according to a new Bloomberg analysis of 83 corporations.
GE said in a Feb. 26 regulatory filing that it was holding $108 billion in profits overseas as of the end of last year. That is up from $102 billion a year before. GE said in the filing that it reinvested most of these profits in foreign business operations and does not intend to bring those profits back to the U.S.
The practice of holding profits overseas has been highlighted as a strategy to avoid paying taxes. GE paid no U.S. taxes at all in 2010, according to The New York Times -- an allegation GE spokesman Seth Martin called "untrue" in an email to The Huffington Post Monday.
GE did not comment on the $108 billion in profits overseas.
Sixty big U.S. companies analyzed by the Wall Street Journal kept on average more than 40 percent of their annual profits overseas last year. The companies have attributed a growing amount of their revenue to foreign sales, and they have assigned patents and licenses to foreign subsidiaries. Thanks to these practices, the U.S. is not only losing out on tax revenue, but it is also missing money kept overseas that will not be used to invest in the U.S. or pay dividends to shareholders.
It has become increasingly common for companies to move or keep their profits overseas. The biggest U.S. companies boosted their offshore cash hoards by 14 percent last year, according to a separate Bloomberg report. Apple, Microsoft and Google together have more than doubled their overseas holdings over the past two years. The drugmakers Merck and Johnson & Johnson each saved about $2 billion last year by shifting profits overseas, according to Bloomberg.
Bloomberg reported that some congressmen, including Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), want to crack down on corporate tax avoidance.
"GE did not get a tax refund in 2010, and in fact paid U.S. federal income tax and more than $1 billion in other federal, state and local taxes in the U.S. for 2010," Martin wrote in an email to HuffPost. "GE’s overall tax rate for 2010 was low because we lost $32 billion in our financial business during the global financial crisis."
But GE has come under fire for its light tax burden. Though it has been earning billions in profits, it paid an average tax rate of just 1.8 percent between 2002 and 2011, according to Citizens for Tax Justice. GE CEO Jeff Immelt has said that the U.S. tax system is "old, complex and uncompetitive" and has had a "hugely negative impact" on the economy.
Earlier on HuffPost:
Sliced Bagel Tax
You might want to think twice about getting that schmear. In New York City, bagels that are sliced or prepared are subject to sales tax, whereas whole bagels are not, <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704340504575448033463314628.html">according to</a> the Wall Street Journal.
If you live in Durham, North Carolina, you could be <a href="http://blog.turbotax.intuit.com/2011/01/03/americas-most-bizarre-taxes/">paying a tax on Rover</a>. The state charges a $10 tax for neutered and spayed pets and $75 for pets that are not neutered or spayed, according to Turbo Tax.
In Illinois, all <a href="http://www.marketwatch.com/story/thomson-reuters-reports-2012-quirky-tax-laws-2013-01-28">candies are subject to an extra tax</a>, unless they contain flour, like the Whopper pictured here.
Elderly Tax Exemption
By the time you're 100, <a href="http://www.efile.com/unusual-strange-funny-taxes-throughout-the-world-and-history/">you've paid enough in taxes</a>, at least according to the state of New Mexico, where people over 100 years old are tax-exempt.
If it's yellow, let it mellow could be the motto of some Maryland and Virginia residents looking to save money. In these two states there's a <a href="http://www.bing.com/videos/watch/video/2-minute-tax-tips-weird-taxes/1zyohv7aj?from=gallery_en-us&cpkey=626b3129-89f2-5b5b-1fb7-b9a5bfa67758%257c%257c%257c%257c">tax on flushing the toilet</a>, according to Bing.
Tennessee <a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6861075">anonymously collects a tax on illegal drugs</a>, according to NPR. In 2006, the state collected $1.5 million from the tax.
Adult diapers <a href="http://www.marketwatch.com/story/thomson-reuters-reports-2012-quirky-tax-laws-2013-01-28">are exempt from sales tax in Connecticut</a>, but if you're buying diapers for your kids you'll have to pay taxes on those, according to Thomson Reuters.
Colorado levies a tax on <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/the-5-weirdest-sales-taxes-we-could-find-2012-1">"non essential" food packaging</a> items, according to Business Insider. That means you'll pay a tax on paper cup lids and napkins, but not on paper cups themselves.
Businesses in Utah that employ nude or partly nude workers are required to pay a <a href="http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/slideshows/the-10-strangest-state-taxes/11">10 percent sales tax</a>, according to U.S. News and World Report.
Card Deck Tax
If you buy cards in Alabama you'll <a href="http://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tools/tax-tips/General-Tax-Tips/7-Crazy-Taxes-from-the-US-and-Abroad/INF12163.html">pay a 10 cent tax</a> on the deck, according to Turbo Tax. Meanwhile, Nevada gives free decks in exchange for completed returns.
Holiday Decorations Tax
In Texas, holiday-themed pictures that are <a href="http://www.efile.com/unusual-strange-funny-taxes-throughout-the-world-and-history/">meant to be placed on walls</a> are taxed, according to efile.com.
In Arkansas, there's a <a href="http://blog.turbotax.intuit.com/2011/01/03/americas-most-bizarre-taxes/">6 percent sales tax on tattoos</a>, according to Turbo Tax.
New York has <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Business/strangest-taxes-50-states/story?id=16089204&page=2">a tax on litigation</a>, according to ABC News.
Hot Air Balloon Tax
In Kansas, you have to pay <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Business/strangest-taxes-50-states/story?id=16089204&page=2">taxes on that hot air balloon</a> ride -- or risk flying away. In that state tethered balloons are taxed, but those that roam free are not because they are considered a legitimate form of transportation, according to ABC.
Fresh Fruit Vending Machine Tax
Another reason not to buy your fruit from a vending machine. Fresh fruit is exempt from sales tax in California, unless <a href="http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/slideshows/the-10-strangest-state-taxes/5">it's sold from a vending machine</a>, according to U.S. News and World Report.