Sure, GE may have the "best tax law firm" in house but the boys and girls working for Rupes seem to have a few tricks of their own. David Cay Johnston reports:
News Corp. has 152 subsidiaries in tax havens, including 62 in the British Virgin Islands and 33 in the Caymans. Among the hundred largest U.S. companies, only Citigroup and Morgan Stanley have more tax haven subsidiaries than News Corp., a 2009 U.S. Government Accountability Office study found. News Corp. had nearly $7 billion permanently invested offshore in 2009, money on which it does not have to pay taxes unless it brings the money back to the United States. Meanwhile, it can use that money as collateral for loans in the United States, where interest paid is a tax-deductible expense.
This and other tax planning strategies result in a 20% tax rate for the company. And not a single phone hacked! [via Reuters] UPDATE: Via NPR's The Two Way news blog, Reuters has posted this statement:
Please be advised that the David Cay Johnston column published on Tuesday stating that Rupert Murdoch’s U.S.-based News Corp made money on income taxes is wrong and has been withdrawn. News Corp’s filings show the company changed reporting conventions in its 2007 annual report when it reversed the way it showed positive and negative numbers. A new column correcting and explaining the error in more detail will be issued shortly.
As of now, Johnston's post remains unchanged and what I blockquoted above doesn't seem to be in dispute but the situation appears to be fluid. UPDATE 2: Here's a portion from Johnston's new column:
Readers, I apologize. The premise of my debut column for Reuters, on News Corp's taxes, was wrong, 100 percent dead wrong. Rupert Murdoch's News Corp did not get a $4.8 billion tax refund for the past four years, as I reported. Instead, it paid that much in cash for corporate income taxes for the years 2007 through 2010 while earning pre-tax profits of $10.4 billion. For the first time in my 45-year-old career I am writing a skinback. That is what journalists call a retraction of the premise of a piece, as in peeling back your skin and feeling the pain. I will do all I can to make sure everyone who has read or heard secondary reports based on my column also learns the facts and would appreciate the help of readers in that cause.
Johnston goes on to explain in detail how the error occurred. He also states that a number of the facts originally reported, including the number of News Corp. subsidiaries in tax haven (that we blockquoted above), remain.