I've known for a while that, last year, I paid more federal tax on the first gallon of gas I bought than Exxon-Mobile, with its $50B in profits, paid out. (I'm sorry, I'd like to say where I got that conception of the problem from... Maybe a Matt Taibbi-penned Rolling Stone article? If not, he's still a fantastic reporter; one of not many looking to stick it to the powerful. In any event, I can't find it and would be happy to have it pointed out to me.)
This Daily Kos diary discusses one of the strategies by which those taxes are avoided.
This sort of thing leads to a weird situation where I'm not at all sure there's any direct way to monitor. I think it leads to a need to just base taxes on corporate reporting statements, or something along those lines. Frankly, if you're going to do business in America, you should pay taxes in America. It really is as simple as that.
And it looks like it might be nearly impossible to actually trace the money. I don't know. Anyone see the problems with that approach? (Other than that it only works for publicly-traded companies, although I think making it only apply to publicly-traded companies isn't too big a deal. Remember, for those companies, they want profits to look as large as possible, so investors will be more likely to buy. Hence, more tax liability. Simple.)