by D. Cupples | Defense contractor Kellogg, Brown and Root ("KBR," formerly a Halliburton subsidiary) has received more than $15 billion in federal government contracts. Instead of being grateful for the contracts (some of which the company won without going through the competitive-bidding process), the company allegedly and repeatedly overcharged us taxpayers by many millions of dollars.
Now, it turns out that KBR dodged paying taxes, which other American businesses have to pay, by hiring employees through off-shore shell corporations. The Boston Globe reports:
"Kellogg Brown & Root, the nation's top Iraq war contractor and until last year a subsidiary of Halliburton Corp., has avoided paying hundreds of millions of dollars in federal Medicare and Social Security taxes by hiring workers through shell companies based in this tropical tax haven.
"More than 21,000 people working for KBR in Iraq - including about 10,500 Americans - are listed as employees of two companies that exist in a computer file on the fourth floor of a building on a palm-studded boulevard here in the Caribbean. Neither company has an office or phone number in the Cayman Islands.
"The Defense Department has known since at least 2004 that KBR was avoiding taxes by declaring its American workers as employees of Cayman Islands shell companies, and officials said the move allowed KBR to perform the work more cheaply, saving Defense dollars.
"But the use of the loophole results in a significantly greater loss of revenue to the government as a whole, particularly to the Social Security and Medicare trust funds. And the creation of shell companies in places such as the Cayman Islands to avoid taxes has long been attacked by members of Congress.
"A Globe survey found that the practice is unusual enough that only one other major contractor in Iraq said it does something similar.
"'Failing to contribute to Social Security and Medicare thousands of times over isn't shielding the taxpayers they claim to protect, it's costing our citizens in the name of short-term corporate greed,' said Senator John F. Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee who has introduced legislation to close loopholes for companies registering overseas." (Boston Globe)
Sen. Kerry is likely right, in that KBR likely did not gave us taxpayers a discount equaling the money that the company saved by avoiding paying taxes.
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