Senate Report on Dividend Tax Abuse Using Offshore Banking







 September 11, 2008


Each year, the United States loses an estimated $100 billion in tax revenues due to offshore tax abuses.1 The U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has examined various aspects of this problem, including how U.S. taxpayers have used offshore tax havens to escape payment of U.S. taxes. This Report focuses on a different subset of abusive practices that benefit only non-U.S. persons, have been developed and facilitated by leading U.S. financial institutions, and have been utilized by offshore hedge funds and others to dodge payment of billions of dollars in U.S. taxes owed on U.S. stock dividends.

Using phrases like “dividend enhancement,” “yield enhancement,” and “dividend uplift” to describe their products, U.S. financial institutions have developed, marketed, and profited from an array of transactions involving multi-million-dollar equity swaps and stock loans whose major purpose is to enable non-U.S. persons to dodge payment of U.S. taxes on U.S. stock dividends. In addition, many of the offshore hedge funds that have benefited from these abusive transactions appear to function as shell operations controlled by U.S. professionals who are helping them dodge U.S. dividend taxes. Six case histories illustrate the scope and nature of the offshore dividend tax abuse problem. 

Subcommittee Investigation 

The Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has a long history of examining offshore tax abuses. Twenty-five years ago, for example, in 1983, under Chairman William Roth, the Subcommittee held landmark hearings exposing how U.S. taxpayers were using offshore banks and corporations to escape U.S. taxes.2  More recently, in March 2001, the Subcommittee took testimony from a U.S. owner of a Cayman Island offshore bank who estimated that 100% of his clients were engaged in tax evasion, and 95% were U.S. citizens.

In July 2001, the Subcommittee examined the historic lack of cooperation by some offshore tax havens with international tax enforcement efforts and their resistance to divulging information needed to detect, stop, and punish U.S. tax evasion.4

In 2003, the Subcommittee held hearings showing how some respected accounting firms, banks, investment advisors, and lawyers had become tax shelter promoters pushing the sale of abusive tax transactions, including some with offshore elements.5 In 2006, the Subcommittee examined six case studies illustrating how U.S. taxpayers were utilizing U.S. and offshore tax and financial professionals, corporate service providers, and trust administrators to hide assets offshore.6  Earlier this year, the Subcommittee held hearings showing how some tax haven banks have employed banking practices that facilitate tax evasion by U.S. clients.7

The Subcommittee began its investigation into offshore dividend tax abuse in September Since then, the Subcommittee has issued more than a dozen subpoenas and conducted numerous interviews of financial institution executives, tax attorneys, hedge fund managers, and others. The Subcommittee has also consulted with experts in the areas of tax, securities, and international law. During the investigation, the Subcommittee reviewed hundreds of thousands of pages of documents, including trading data, financial records, presentations, correspondence, and electronic communications. Using this information, the Subcommittee developed six case histories to illustrate the scope and nature of the problem. 

Abusive Dividend Tax Transactions

Offshore hedge funds and other sophisticated non-U.S. institutions and companies are active players in the U.S. stock market, often hold large volumes of U.S. stock, and are frequent recipients of U.S. stock dividends. Because many are located in tax haven jurisdictions, they are typically subject to a 30% rate of taxation on their U.S. stock dividends. It is not surprising, then, that these non-U.S. persons have sought ways to eliminate or reduce the 30% dividend tax, since to do so would provide them with significant tax savings and greater yield on their investments.

After reviewing practices at nearly a dozen financial institutions and hedge funds, the Subcommittee uncovered substantial evidence that U.S. financial institutions knowingly developed, marketed, and implemented a wide range of transactions aimed at enabling their non-U.S. clients to dodge U.S. dividend taxes.9  Using a variety of complex financial instruments, primarily involving equity swaps and stock loans, these U.S. financial institutions structured transactions to enable their non-U.S. clients to enjoy all of the economic benefits of owning shares of U.S. stock, including receiving dividends, without paying the tax applicable to those dividends. These structured transactions increased the amount of dividend returns obtained by some of their non-U.S. clients by 30% or more.

The evidence also showed that use of abusive dividend tax transactions is widespread throughout the offshore hedge fund industry. Offshore hedge funds actively sought these abusive transactions, negotiated the terms of the arrangements with the financial institutions, and at times played one financial institution against another to elicit the largest possible tax reduction. In addition, many of the offshore hedge funds benefiting from these tax dodges did not maintain physical offices or investment professionals in their offshore locations, and instead operated primarily under the control of U.S. persons serving as the fund’s general partner or investment manager. In these cases, U.S. hedge fund managers and their employees often played key roles in facilitating the offshore dividend tax abuse.

The purpose of this Report is not to condemn the use of complex financial transactions that utilize stock swaps, stock loans, or other forms of structured finance, which can be used for legitimate business purposes such as facilitating capital flows, reducing capital needs, and spreading risk. Instead, this Report attempts to identify abusive financial transactions that have no business purpose other than tax avoidance and to recommend measures to stop the misuse of structured finance to undermine the U.S. tax code.

Abusive dividend tax practices took hold in the 1990s, and have multiplied since, due to a variety of factors. These factors include the lowering of the dividend tax rate in 2003, which resulted in more companies paying dividends; the implementation of other tax code changes, such as more favorable treatment of swaps, which encouraged tax practitioners to think of ways to disguise dividend payments as swap payments to avoid the 30% dividend tax rate; the proliferation of hedge funds willing to engage in complex financial transactions; the proliferation of “dividend enhancement” products offered by financial institutions to attract and retain clients; the failure of regulators to keep track of and regulate these new products to prevent abusive practices; the general loosening of regulation and oversight of the financial industry, including with respect to offshore activities; and the willingness on the part financial institutions, hedge funds, and their legal advisors to adopt more aggressive and abusive tax practices. 

Abusive Stock Swap and Loan Transactions.

The abusive tax products examined by the Subcommittee were primarily associated with stock swaps and stock lending transactions. These transactions varied in form, complexity, and the degree to which they transgressed, distorted, or undermined current tax law.

Abusive stock swap transactions essentially involve an effort to recast a dividend payment as a swap payment in order to take advantage of the favored tax treatment currently given to swap agreements involving non-U.S. persons. Right now, under the U.S. tax code, while U.S. stock dividends paid to non-U.S. persons are generally subject to a 30% tax rate, “dividend equivalents” paid to non-U.S. persons as part of a swap agreement are not subject to any U.S. tax at all.

Abusive stock swap tax transactions seek to take advantage of this disparity in tax treatment. For example, in one of the most blatant forms of this type of transaction, a few days before a stock is scheduled to issue a dividend, an offshore hedge fund sells its stock to a U.S. institution, temporarily replacing its stock holdings with a swap agreement tied to the economic performance of the same stock. After the dividend is issued, the offshore hedge fund receives from the financial institution a “dividend equivalent” payment under the swap agreement equal to the full dividend amount less a fee. The fee, charged by the financial institution, is usually tied to the tax savings, and generally equals 3% to 8% of the dividend amount. The end result is that the offshore hedge fund receives 92% to 97% of the dividend amount instead of the 70% that it would have received if the 30% in taxes had been withheld. A few days after the dividend date, the offshore hedge fund terminates the swap agreement and repurchases the stock, leaving the offshore hedge fund with the same status it had before the transaction was undertaken.

This type of transaction is intended to enable the offshore client to maintain the same economic benefits (including the receipt of dividend payments) and market risks as owning the real stock, while dodging payment of tax on the dividend equivalent payments. That the offshore client enters into the swap agreement for only a short period of time around the dividend period, and owns shares of the underlying stock both before and after the swap, demonstrates that this type of transaction has no purpose other than to avoid the dividend tax.

More complex variants of this transaction include a multitude of parties, longer time frames, multiple stock sales, and coordinated pricing to give the appearance of market risk and arms length dealing. These elements have been added, as offshore hedge funds and U.S. financial institutions have tried to disguise the true nature of the transactions and avoid their recharacterization by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as ones which are subject to dividend taxes.

Another effort to dodge payment of U.S. dividend taxes utilizes stock lending transactions. In a typical transaction, a U.S. financial institution uses an offshore corporation it owns and controls to borrow U.S. stock from an offshore hedge fund. The offshore corporation borrows the stock a few days before a dividend is issued, sells the stock, and simultaneously enters into a swap agreement with its affiliated financial institution. After receiving a tax-free “dividend equivalent” payment under the swap agreement, the offshore corporation passes the payment (now called a “substitute dividend”) back to the offshore hedge fund from which it had borrowed the stock. Relying upon a misinterpretation of an IRS notice on substitute dividends, the parties then claim that no withholding of the substitute dividend payment is required and the payment can be made tax-free. A few days after the dividend payment, the offshore corporation returns the borrowed stock to the offshore hedge fund which then regains the same status as before the stock loan took place.

When this type of stock loan first began appearing, a vigorous debate erupted among legal counsel and their clients about its legitimacy. JPMorgan Chase told Morgan Stanley that the substitute dividend payment was tax-free only if someone earlier in the stock loan lending chain had paid the initial withholding. A potential client told Merrill Lynch that its legal counsel had said the stock loan works “once, maybe twice” but “repeated use, coincidentally around dividend payment time, would provide a strong case for the IRS to assert tax evasion.” He observed that, “it is the repeated ‘overuse’, e.g. pigs trying to be hogs, that proves problematic.”

1 This $100 billion estimate is derived from studies conducted by a variety of tax experts. See, e.g., Joseph Guttentag and Reuven Avi-Yonah, “Closing the International Tax Gap,” in Max B. Sawicky, ed., Bridging the Tax Gap: Addressing the Crisis in Federal Tax Administration (2006) (estimating offshore tax evasion by individuals at $40-$70 billion annually in lost U.S. tax revenues); Kimberly A. Clausing, “Multinational Firm Tax Avoidance and U.S. Government Revenue” (Aug. 2007) (estimating corporate offshore transfer pricing abuses resulted in $60 billion in lost U.S. tax revenues in 2004); John Zdanowics, “Who’s watching our back door?” Business Accents magazine, Volume 1, No.1, Florida International University (Fall 2004) (estimating offshore corporate transfer pricing abuses resulted in $53 billion in lost U.S. tax revenues in 2001); “The Price of Offshore,” Tax Justice Network briefing paper (Mar. 2005) (estimating that, worldwide, individuals have offshore assets totaling $11.5 trillion, resulting in $255 billion in annual lost tax revenues worldwide); “Governments and Multinational Corporations in the Race to the Bottom,” Tax Notes (Feb. 27, 2006); “Data Show Dramatic Shift of Profits to Tax Havens,” Tax Notes (Sept. 13, 2004). See also series of 2007 articles authored by Martin Sullivan in Tax Notes (estimating over $1.5 trillion in hidden assets in four tax havens, Guernsey, Jersey, Isle of Man, and Switzerland, beneficially owned by nonresident individuals likely avoiding tax in their home jurisdictions): “Tax Analysts Offshore Project: Offshore Explorations: Guernsey,” Tax Notes (Oct. 8, 2007) at 93 (estimating Guernsey has $293 billion in assets beneficially owned by nonresident individuals who were likely avoiding tax in their home jurisdictions); “Tax Analysts Offshore Project: Offshore Explorations: Jersey,” Tax Notes (Oct. 22, 2007) at 294 (estimating Jersey has $491 billion in assets beneficially owned by nonresident individuals who were likely avoiding tax in their home jurisdictions); “Tax Analysts Offshore Project: Offshore Explorations: Isle of Man,” Tax Notes (Nov. 5, 2007) at 560 (estimating Isle of Man has $150 billion in assets beneficially owned by non-resident individuals who were likely avoiding tax in their home jurisdictions); “Tax Analysts Offshore Project: Offshore Explorations: Switzerland,” Tax Notes (Dec. 10, 2007) (estimating Switzerland has $607 billion in assets beneficially owned by nonresident individuals who were likely avoiding tax in their home jurisdictions).

2 See “Crime and Secrecy: the Use of Offshore Banks and Companies,” hearing before the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, S.Hrg. 98-151 (March 15, 16 and May 24, 1983).

3 See “Role of U.S. Correspondent Banking in International Money Laundering,” hearing before the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, S.Hrg. 107-84 (March 1, 2 and 6, 2001), testimony of John M. Mathewson, at 12-13.

4 See “What is the U.S. Position on Offshore Tax Havens?” before the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, S.Hrg. 107-152 (July 18, 2001).

5 See “U.S. Tax Shelter Industry: The Role of Accountants, Layers, and Financial Professionals,” hearing before the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, S.Hrg. 108-473 (Nov. 18 and 20, 2003).

6 See “Tax Haven Abuses: The Enablers, the Tools and Secrecy,” hearing before the U.S. Senate Permanent

Subcommittee on Investigations, S.Hrg. 109-797 (Aug. 1, 2006).

7 See “Tax Haven Banks and U.S. Tax Compliance,” hearing before the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (July 17, 2008).

8 The financial institutions examined by the Subcommittee included Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs,

Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, and UBS. The hedge funds included Angelo Gordon, Highbridge (a JPMorgan Chase affiliate), Maverick, Moore Capital, and funds managed by the financial institutions listed above. The documents produced by those entities and the interviews conducted by the Subcommittee show that the industry practices described in this Report extend beyond the specific institutions reviewed. In particular, the documents produced by the financial institutions include references to a large number of hedge fund clients.

9 “U.S. financial institution” includes both financial institutions that are organized in the United States and U.S. branches of foreign financial institutions.

10 If one is entitled, for example, to a $70 dividend and receives $100 instead, the increase is approximately 43%.

11 The Subcommittee also identified other financial transactions, such as equity linked certificates and certain stock option transactions using puts and calls, that were used by a few financial institutions to enable their clients to dodge U.S. dividend taxes. These transactions are discussed in brief in the case histories.

12 Treas. Reg. § 1.863-7(b)(1).


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There is nothing more delightful than a great poetry reading to warm ones heart on a cold winter night fireside. Today is one of the coldest Valentine’s days on record, thus, nothing could be better than listening to the resonant voice of Robin Shuckbrugh, The Cotswold [...] Read more →

King Arthur Legends, Myths, and Maidens

King Arthur, Legends, Myths & Maidens is a massive book of Arthurian legends. This limited edition paperback was just released on Barnes and Noble at a price of $139.00. Although is may seem a bit on the high side, it may prove to be well worth its price as there are only [...] Read more →

The Flying Saucers are Real by Donald Keyhoe

It was a strange assignment. I picked up the telegram from desk and read it a third time.

NEW YORK, N.Y., MAY 9, 1949


What’s the Matter?

A rhetorical question? Genuine concern?

In this essay we are examining another form of matter otherwise known as national literary matters, the three most important of which being the Matter of Rome, Matter of France, and the Matter of England.

Our focus shall be on the Matter of England or [...] Read more →

The American Museum in Britain – From Florida to Bath

Hernando de Soto (c1496-1542) Spanish explorer and his men torturing natives of Florida in his determination to find gold. Hand-coloured engraving. John Judkyn Memorial Collection, Freshford Manor, Bath

The print above depicts Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto and his band of conquistadors torturing Florida natives in order to extract information on where [...] Read more →

Ought King Leopold to be Hanged?

King Leopold Butcher of the Congo

For the somewhat startling suggestion in the heading of this interview, the missionary interviewed is in no way responsible. The credit of it, or, if you like, the discredit, belongs entirely to the editor of the Review, who, without dogmatism, wishes to pose the question as [...] Read more →

Fruits of the Empire: Licorice Root and Juice

Liquorice, the roots of Glycirrhiza Glabra, a perennial plant, a native of the south of Europe, but cultivated to some extent in England, particularly at Mitcham, in Surrey.

Its root, which is its only valuable part, is long, fibrous, of a yellow colour, and when fresh, very juicy. [...] Read more →

Gold and Economic Freedom

by Alan Greenspan, 1967

An almost hysterical antagonism toward the gold standard is one issue which unites statists of all persuasions. They seem to sense-perhaps more clearly and subtly than many consistent defenders of laissez-faire — that gold and economic freedom are inseparable, that the gold standard is an instrument [...] Read more →

Looking for a Gift for the Book Collector in the Family?

Buying a book for a serious collector with refined tastes can be a daunting task.

However, there is one company that publishes some of the finest reproduction books in the world, books that most collectors wouldn’t mind having in their collection no matter their general preference or specialty.

Traditional JuJutsu Health, Strength and Combat Tricks

Jujitsu training 1920 in Japanese agricultural school.



In the writer’s opinion it becomes necessary to make at this point some suggestions relative to a very important part of the training in jiu-jitsu. [...] Read more →

The Basics of Painting in the Building Trade

PAINTER-WORK, in the building trade. When work is painted one or both of two distinct ends is achieved, namely the preservation and the coloration of the material painted. The compounds used for painting—taking the word as meaning a thin protective or decorative coat—are very numerous, including oil-paint of many kinds, distemper, whitewash, [...] Read more →

Christmas Pudding with Dickens

Traditional British Christmas Pudding Recipe by Pen Vogler from the Charles Dickens Museum


85 grams all purpose flour pinch of salt 170 grams Beef Suet 140 grams brown sugar tsp. mixed spice, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, &c 170 grams bread crumbs 170 grams raisins 170 grams currants 55 grams cut mixed peel Gram to [...] Read more →

The Crime of the Congo by Arthur Conan Doyle


Man looks at severed hand and foot….for refusing to climb a tree to cut rubber for King Leopold

Click here to read The Crime of the Congo by Arthur Conan Doyle

Victim of King Leopold of Belgium

Click on the link below for faster download.

The [...] Read more →

A History of the Use of Arsenicals in Man

The arsenicals (compounds which contain the heavy metal element arsenic, As) have a long history of use in man – with both benevolent and malevolent intent. The name ‘arsenic’ is derived from the Greek word ‘arsenikon’ which means ‘potent'”. As early as 2000 BC, arsenic trioxide, obtained from smelting copper, was used [...] Read more →

Vitruvius Ten Books on Architecture


The Ten Books on Architecture




U.S. Coast Guard Radio Information for Boaters

VHF Marifoon Sailor RT144, by S.J. de Waard


Effective 01 August, 2013, the U. S. Coast Guard terminated its radio guard of the international voice distress, safety and calling frequency 2182 kHz and the international digital selective calling (DSC) distress and safety frequency 2187.5 kHz. Additionally, [...] Read more →

Commercial Fried Fish Cake Recipe

Dried Norwegian Salt Cod

Fried fish cakes are sold rather widely in delicatessens and at prepared food counters of department stores in the Atlantic coastal area. This product has possibilities for other sections of the country.


Home Top of [...] Read more →

Chantry Chapels

William Wyggeston’s chantry house, built around 1511, in Leicester: The building housed two priests, who served at a chantry chapel in the nearby St Mary de Castro church. It was sold as a private dwelling after the dissolution of the chantries.

A Privately Built Chapel

Chantry, chapel, generally within [...] Read more →

Books Condemned to be Burnt








WHEN did books first come to be burnt in England by the common hangman, and what was [...] Read more →

A Survey of Palestine – 1945-1946

This massive volume gives one a real visual sense of what it was like running a highly efficient colonial operation in the early 20rh Century. It will also go a long way to help anyone wishing to understand modern political intrigue in the Middle-East.

Click here to read A Survey of Palestine [...] Read more →

Life Among the Thugee

The existence of large bodies of men having no other means of subsistence than those afforded by plunder, is, in all countries, too common to excite surprise; and, unhappily, organized bands of assassins are not peculiar to India! The associations of murderers known by the name of Thugs present, however, [...] Read more →

Here’s Many a Year to You

” Here’s many a year to you ! Sportsmen who’ve ridden life straight. Here’s all good cheer to you ! Luck to you early and late.

Here’s to the best of you ! You with the blood and the nerve. Here’s to the rest of you ! What of a weak moment’s swerve ? [...] Read more →

Glimpses from the Chase

From Fores’s Sporting Notes and Sketches, A Quarterly Magazine Descriptive of British, Indian, Colonial, and Foreign Sport with Thirty Two Full Page Illustrations Volume 10 1893, London; Mssrs. Fores Piccadilly W. 1893, All Rights Reserved.

GLIMPSES OF THE CHASE, Ireland a Hundred Years Ago. By ‘Triviator.’

FOX-HUNTING has, like Racing, [...] Read more →

Naval Stores – Distilling Turpentine

Chipping a Turpentine Tree

DISTILLING TURPENTINE One of the Most Important Industries of the State of Georgia Injuring the Magnificent Trees Spirits, Resin, Tar, Pitch, and Crude Turpentine all from the Long Leaved Pine – “Naval Stores” So Called.

Dublin, Ga., May 8. – One of the most important industries [...] Read more →

Horn Measurement

Jul. 23, 1898 Forest and Stream, Pg. 65

Horn Measurements.

Editor Forest and Stream: “Record head.” How shamefully this term is being abused, especially in the past three years; or since the giant moose from Alaska made his appearance in public and placed all former records (so far as [...] Read more →

The Charge of the Light Brigade

Officers and men of the 13th Light Dragoons, British Army, Crimea. Rostrum photograph of photographer’s original print, uncropped and without color correction. Survivors of the Charge.

Half a league, half a league, Half a league onward, All in the valley of Death Rode the six hundred. “Forward, the Light Brigade! Charge for the [...] Read more →

Cup of Tea? To be or not to be

Twinings London – photo by Elisa.rolle

Is the tea in your cup genuine?

The fact is, had one been living in the early 19th Century, one might occasionally encounter a counterfeit cup of tea. Food adulterations to include added poisonings and suspect substitutions were a common problem in Europe at [...] Read more →

The First Pineapple Grown in England

First Pineapple Grown in England

Click here to read an excellent article on the history of pineapple growing in the UK.

Should one be interested in serious mass scale production, click here for scientific resources.

Growing pineapples in the UK.

The video below demonstrates how to grow pineapples in Florida.

[...] Read more →

Tuna Record


July 2, 1898. Forest and Stream Pg. 11

The Tuna Record.

Avalon. Santa Catalina Island. Southern California, June 16.—Editor Forest and Stream: Several years ago the writer in articles on the “Game Fishes of the Pacific Slope,” in [...] Read more →

Country Cabbage and Pea Soup

Add the following ingredients to a four or six quart crock pot, salt & pepper to taste keeping in mind that salt pork is just that, cover with water and cook on high till it boils, then cut back to low for four or five hours. A slow cooker works well, I [...] Read more →

Painting Plaster Work and the History of Terra Cotta

The 1896 Victorian terracotta Bell Edison Telephone Building – 17 & 19 Newhall Street, Birmingham, England. A grade I listed building designed by Frederick Martin of the firm Martin & Chamberlain. Now offices for firms of architects. Photographed 10 May 2006 by Oosoom

[Reprint from Victoria and Albert Museum included below on [...] Read more →

Origin of the Apothecary


The origin of the apothecary in England dates much further back than one would suppose from what your correspondent, “A Barrister-at-Law,” says about it. It is true he speaks only of apothecaries as a distinct branch of the medical profession, but long before Henry VIII’s time [...] Read more →

The Apparatus of the Stock Market


The components of any given market place include both physical structures set up to accommodate trading, and participants to include buyers, sellers, brokers, agents, barkers, pushers, auctioneers, agencies, and propaganda outlets, and banking or transaction exchange facilities.

Markets are generally set up by sellers as it is in their [...] Read more →

David Starkey: Britain’s Last Great Historian

Dr. David Starkey, the UK’s premiere historian, speaks to the modern and fleeting notion of “cancel culture”. Starkey’s brilliance is unparalleled and it has become quite obvious to the world’s remaining Western scholars willing to stand on intellectual integrity that a few so-called “Woke Intellectuals” most certainly cannot undermine [...] Read more →

Palermo Wine

Take to every quart of water one pound of Malaga raisins, rub and cut the raisins small, and put them to the water, and let them stand ten days, stirring once or twice a day. You may boil the water an hour before you put it to the raisins, and let it [...] Read more →