Baucus: Deepwater Horizon rig owner may have ‘exploited’ tax law

According to the committee, Transocean is “largely physically located in the U.S.” but avoided U.S. taxes by moving its headquarters to the Cayman Islands in 1999, and subsequently to Switzerland in 2008.

In a June 30 letter to Transocean CEO Steven Newman, Baucus says the company has used a technique called “corporate inversion,” in which companies move their headquarters outside the United States to minimize tax obligations even though “management and control” functions remain here.

The letter notes that such transactions were barred under a 2004 corporate tax law, which also contained other measures to close tax loopholes. Baucus also noted that other provisions he authored to close offshore loopholes were enacted into law earlier this year as part of a larger bill that provided new tax incentives to spur business hiring.

Against that backdrop, the letter asks for a suite of Transocean documents by July 19 in order to “further the goals of equitable tax administration, voluntary tax compliance and closing offshore loopholes.”

Baucus wants documents including years of tax returns and information about liabilities and income over the last 15 years. The lengthy letter also seeks information about Transocean’s activities and assets in various countries and its management practices, including the location of its chief executive officer, chief financial officer and chief operating officer.

In addition, Baucus presses the company for information about its two relocations.