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Many federal contractors establish offshore subsidiaries to take advantage of labor and market conditions. GAO has found that they also use offshore subsidiaries to reduce their U.S. tax burdens. In 2008, Congress passed the Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax (HEART) Act which resulted in contractor offshore subsidiaries paying certain payroll taxes for U.S. personnel working abroad. Fiscal year 2009's National Defense Authorization Act required GAO to report on the rationales, implications, and costs and benefits of defense contractors' use of offshore subsidiaries. We (1) assessed trends and purposes for contractors' offshore subsidiaries; (2) identified how contractors use subsidiaries to support defense contracts; (3) assessed DOD's oversight of contractors' use of offshore subsidiaries. To conduct our work, we reviewed data for the 29 U.S. publicly traded contractors with at least $1 billion in DOD spending in fiscal year 2008, reviewed several illustrative contracts selected based on categories of DOD services most often performed overseas, reviewed audit documents, and interviewed DOD officials about oversight.

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Matter for Congressional Consideration

Matter Status Comments
Congress may wish to consider whether further legislative actions are needed to require payment of unemployment taxes for U.S. workers hired by offshore subsidiaries to perform services overseas.
Closed - Not Implemented
Over the years, Congress has not yet taken action on this matter. Therefore, we are closing the recommendation.

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