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Companies' Offshore Profits Keep Piling Up

Multinationals stash profits beyond the reach of U.S. taxes

U.S. corporations added at least $206 billion to their stockpiles of offshore profits last year, parking earnings in low-tax countries until Congress gives them a reason not to. They have accumulated $1.95 trillion outside the U.S., up 11.8 percent from a year earlier, according to securities filings from 307 corporations.

The increase in profits held outside the U.S. has been particularly large and steady at technology companies, many of which have assigned patents and other intellectual property to units based in low-tax locales. Three of them—Microsoft, Apple, and IBM—accounted for $37.5 billion, or 18.2 percent of the total increase in 2013. In three years, Microsoft’s profits held offshore have more than doubled. Apple’s have more than quadrupled. Google’s stash has more than doubled in the past three years, to $38.9 billion from $17.5 billion.