Tracking Tax Runaways

Published: September 18, 2014 | Updated: March 1, 2017

More large U.S. companies are effectively renouncing their U.S. citizenship by adopting a legal address abroad. They’re being driven away by the highest corporate income tax in the developed world, and helped by a tax code so porous that they can choose from several means of escape. The most popular move, known as an “inversion,” allows a company to change its country of incorporation without a change in majority ownership, management, or headquarters.

After a Lull, Inversions Surge Again

A wave of inversions stopped abruptly in 2002, when U.S. legislators pledged action to prevent them. Not long after the anti-inversion bill passed Congress in 2004, a new wave of inversions began, making use of exceptions to the law.

Where Corporate Expatriates Have Gone

U.S. companies that shift their place of incorporation to another country tend to pick ones with low or no corporate income taxes. Bermuda was the most popular destination a decade ago; now it's Ireland.

Corporate Expatriates: See the Data

The roster of corporate expats includes inverted companies and former divisions that they spun off as independent entities, as well as U.S. firms that got a foreign address through a leveraged buyout or other ownership change.

Types of Expatriations

Inversion – A U.S. company shifts its place of incorporation to another country without undergoing a change in majority ownership

Spinoff – A division of a previously inverted U.S. company becomes independent

Other – A U.S. company gets a foreign address through other means, such as a sale to a leveraged-buyout firm