Dismissed by critics and devoured by fans, “Transformers: Age of Extinction” was the top box office film in 2014, bringing in $1.1 billion, with more than three-quarters of those dollars coming from overseas.
ViacomCBS’s Paramount Pictures, which distributed the computer-animated action-fest, saved much of that money by licensing the international rights through a complex strategy designed to avoid paying U.S. taxes, according to a study published on Tuesday by the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations, a nonprofit group funded in part by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
It is common practice for multinational corporations to take advantage of tax shelters. The report offers a rare look at how one company has pulled it off.
ViacomCBS, a media giant that came into being after the 2019 merger of the sibling companies, has used the same strategy for all its entertainment properties, according to the report.
Since 2002, ViacomCBS and its predecessor companies, Viacom and CBS, together avoided paying $3.96 billion in U.S. corporate income tax through a system that involved subsidiaries in Barbados, the Bahamas, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Britain, according to the report.