Is Carnival Cruising For A Bruising?


I was upset, though not surprised, to read Curt Anderson‘s AP article about Carnival Cruise Lines refusal to reimburse the US government after a series of high seas breakdowns. In the billion dollar world of supersized cruise ships we’re talking spare change, $780,000 for the Carnival Triumph and $3.4 million for the Carnival Splendor.

Carnival’s refusal follows a sharply pointed letter from West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller to Carnival CEO Micky Arison.

Arison is an interesting character in his own right. It is well reported he renounced his US citizenship to avoid paying billions in taxes. His cruise lines follow a similar strategy.

Other than about half a million dollars in annual property tax on its West Miami-Dade headquarters, and lease payments for its Port of Miami terminal, Carnival gives little to the county or state. Nor does it (or any other foreign-flagged cruise line) pay corporate income tax. On more than one billion dollars in profits last year, all of Carnival’s fees (plus federal taxes on its Alaska-based tour subsidiary) totaled less than one percent of its profits. Had the 35 percent U.S. corporate tax rate applied, more than $358 million would have gone to the IRS. – Miami New Times

Carnival Corporation maintains headquarters in Miami and London. It’s incorporated in Panama.

Carnival’s ships often sail from US ports. None are registered here.

I have written about this subject before. It irks me to see corporations and people take advantage of America this way. Make no mistake, we’re getting jobbed!

When businesses like cruise lines use services, but avoid taxes, we all make up the difference. I have taken cruises in the past, including Carnival cruises. You have subsidized my trips.

It is illegal to structure financial transactions solely to avoid taxes. Do we enforce that at all? Isn’t it about time?

I suspect Senator Rockefeller would like to go after the cruise lines. Me too.