Offshore ‘Tax Havens’ Criticized By Colorado Democrats

Listen Now
Photo: Mike Foote Colorado Legislature
Mike Foote (D-Longmont) is targeting offshore tax havens in 2016.

Democrats in the Colorado legislature are taking a serious look at offshore "tax havens." These are businesses that locate in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Switzerland and other places where taxes are low or zero and banks encourage secrecy in financial dealings.

With some creativity, companies can book profits to their subsidiaries in these places and avoid paying some taxes in the United States. Colorado Speaker of the House Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, a Boulder Democrat, told CPR News that one priority for her party is to address this issue.

Last year, Rep. Mike Foote, a Longmont Democrat, sponsored a bill addressing tax havens and the companies that use them and operate in Colorado. He says he will reintroduce a similar bill this session. He spoke with Colorado Matters host Nathan Heffel.

We reached out to the Colorado companies named in the U.S. PIRG report. Below are the responses we received:

Arrow Electronics, Centennial:

"First and foremost, it’s important to note that CoPIRG failed to account for companies that have legitimate needs to fund sizable international operations. Arrow, for example, serves over 100,000 customers all across the globe. We maintain over 300 sales facilities and 40 distribution centers in 56 different countries. And, each year, we must make substantial investments in inventory and capital expenditures to maintain and grow this international business. ​CoPIRG also failed to delineate between global companies with legitimate overseas sales and capital investments—companies like Arrow. For example, 54 percent—or $12.3 billion—of Arrow’s 2014 sales were derived outside of the United States. These cumulative earnings are not available for repatriation or any other purpose, and they are not stockpiled cash—they have been generated over many years and have been permanently reinvested in the company’s international operations."

CH2M Hill, Englewood:

"We don’t have a statement on this issue."

Davita, Denver:

"This report is inaccurate. We do not shelter our business offshore to duck responsibility. We are a responsible American company that pays its full share of U.S. taxes. In fact, we are in the highest federal corporate tax bracket in America. Naming us with companies that hide in tax havens is irresponsible on the part of the study’s authors and those promoting it. We are a growing company, now operating in twelve countries. Our international operations and clinics are staffed with DaVita teammates, patients, nurses and physicians."

Level 3 Communications, Broomfield:

"We are not the right company to talk with regarding this report as it is not relevant to our business. You’ll note, we are listed in the appendix due to the fact, we are a global telecommunications provider with operations in more than 60 countries. However, we are not listed in the report as a company “holding millions of dollars” in revenue in foreign subsidiaries."

Newmont Mining, Greenwood Village:

"At least as it relates to Newmont, there are inaccuracies in the report. For example, we no longer have an entity in Switzerland as we sold the refinery we used to own there. Also, we do not have any entities in the Channel Islands as the report claims. We also only have one entity in Cypress, not two as the report claims, and eight in the Netherlands, not nine, and only two in Bermuda, not three (so, you may want to double check the accuracy of the report). These entities are not tax havens as we do not store money in those jurisdictions or use them for tax filing purposes. We have mining operations around the world and all of our profits from those operations are taxed in the countries where the profits are generated (including in the US). "

Western Union, Meridian:

“The Company and its subsidiaries file tax returns for the United States, for multiple states and localities, and for various non-United States jurisdictions, and the Company has identified the United States as its major tax jurisdiction, as the income tax imposed by any one foreign country is not material to the Company.”

We also reached out to these companies named in the report, but haven't heard back:

Ball, Broomfield:
Liberty Interactive, Englewood: