In the Game of Global Income Shifting, the Feds Are Overmatched

We cannot turn “a blind eye to the highly questionable tax strategies that corporations like Apple use to avoid paying taxes in America.” So said Republican Sen. John McCain at a Senate hearing in 2013. He was referring to income shifting by U.S. multinationals: the use of foreign subsidiaries to siphon profits out of the U.S. and into countries with lower tax rates. Since then, researchers, journalists, and policymakers have indeed taken a hard look at these strategies. And some scholars have suggested that, in the glare of the spotlight, it may be more difficult for firms to dodge taxation today. After all, the Internal Revenue Service can easily spot the signs of aggressive tax avoidance and initiate an audit.

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