Understanding "transfer pricing": how corporations dodge taxes through financial colonialism

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/07/11/tax-avoidance-r-us.html

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so,… money laundering.

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What is Senator Warren proposing to fix this?

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Transfer pricing is a huge issue in the fair taxation of multinationals, but I’m not sure about slapping the colonialism label onto it.

All countries lose from this, and it is the larger countries with the strictest tax regimens and well-developed states that are targeted for the most tax avoidance.

I’d also say that of course it is an attempt to subvert democracy all over the world, - undermining the possibility of social democracy by hiding the money that should be paying for it, and welding the loopholes in place through the pushing of “free trade agreements” which contain protections for " intellectual property" and “trade in services” and allow for corporations to sue any country that tries to stop them.

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Any time that one party has effective control over both sides of a transaction, it is often going to be the case that the “price” is determined by the benefit of that party, rather than any kind of economic fundamentals. You see that when hedgies control companies but use that control to loot them by larding them up with debts. You see that when companies avoid taxes by maximizing profits in low tax jurisdictions.

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From as far back as the days of pelt harvesting, one of the primary purposes of the Nuevo Mundo has been to allow corporations to have free reign and near-zero responsibility. The “gold rush” fever is contagious and continues to spread beyond the US’ borders to this day.

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Think of it as corporate colonialism, which I was going to call a new thing but then I thought about entities like the East India Company.

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Yes, a “respectable” and currently legal large-scale version of this, complete with placement, layering, and integration:

Unfortunately, money laundering is only as illegal as federal prosecutors care to make it. There are too many billion dollar grifts supported by like-funded legal teams to tackle anything but the most blatant and egregious cases. I’m actually surprised to hear about this lawsuit against Amazon.

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In that case, it might be because Amazon was cutting the American legal system out of the action as well as the American tax system. Moving all that IP that was originally registered in the U.S. and that the U.S. still has to enforce (which has additional tax implications) to Luxembourg may have been a little too blatant a corporate self-dealing scheme to be ignored as most of them are.

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just another instance of corporations allowed to get away with shit that people are put in jail for.

Corporations are a frankenstein’s monster that is out of our control. We need to get it back under control - corporations exist to serve us, not own us. We need to fight back.

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Let’s hope this is just the beginning!

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I took international accounting for my elective accounting classes. Fat use it actually does me, but I do remember learning what transfer pricing was and being disgusted.

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You could define colonialism as the 1% of the imperialist countries and the 0.01% of the colonised countries screwing everyone else. I’ve come to think that “transfer pricing”, money laundering, tax havens, bribery, etc. are all essential parts of the imperialist system. That’s why they are never shut down despite repeated scandals.

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