60 minutes examines worlds new tax havens

| 27/03/2011

(CBS News): Just when the U.S. Treasury needs the money most, American companies are finding new ways to shift profits to overseas tax havens and legally avoid paying the U.S. tax rate of 35 percent – among the highest in the world. Those companies say they are doing what they must to compete in the global economy and please their shareholders. But others feel the companies are getting an unfair break by moving business to places like Switzerland and Ireland. Lesley Stahl reports on the debate for a "60 Minutes" storyto be broadcast Sunday evening.

Weatherford International is a Texas-based oilfield services company that used to be incorporated in the Caribbean, and recently moved to the small town of Zug, Switzerland.

About 26,000 people live in this town, but some 30,000 companies are registered in the area. Weatherford’s Zug address is little more than that: an address. The company still has 2,800 workers in Houston, and an upper management that rarely goes to Zug. But incorporating here allows them to significantly lower their tax bill. The average tax rate in Zug is between 15 and 16 percent.

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