According to U.S. tax law, any profits earned overseas must be taxed by 35% when returned to the U.S. That's why many companies park their cash on international soil - cash that could be shared with investors. Accounting expert Jack Ciesielski crunched the numbers on the biggest overseas balances.
Perhaps it's not surprising that General Electric, known for aggressively minimizing its tax bill, by far tops the list.
The multinational conglomerate operates in nearly every corner of the world, whether it's supplying technology to hospitals in Malaysia, medical imaging equipment to England, or water systems in Ghana. It sells its products and services in more than 100 countries.
A recent story in The New York Times claimed that GE paid nothing in federal income tax last year despite its $5.2 billion in domestic profits. It sparked a new debate over corporate tax reform, even though the company later told Fortune that it expects a small tax liability for 2010.