Members of the Occupy movement in Miami Beach criticized Carnival Corp. for paying too little in U.S. taxes.
Occupy members attending the cruise giant’s annual shareholder meeting April 11 at the W Hotel spoke up during the event’s question-and-answer session, which followed a financial report by Carnival Corp. vice chairman and COO Howard Frank.
The presentation had been webcast live until the Q&A began.
Media in attendance reported that several Occupy members persistently questioned Carnival Corp. chairman and CEO Micky Arison about the company’s tax rate and its record of social responsibility and jobs creation.
“I call on Micky Arison to pay your fair share of taxes. Why is Carnival refusing to pay its fair share of taxes and manipulating the system and not helping children?” asked one Occupy member who was quoted on the Seatrade Insider website.
Carnival Corp., responding to the Occupy members at its shareholders meeting, issued a statement defending its payment of taxes and fees.
“The majority of Carnival Corporation & plc's income is earned outside of the U.S. At the international level, there is recognition that it is impossible to develop a tax system by which the income of a shipping company is fairly apportioned and countries typically impose head taxes and other types of taxes in lieu of income taxes,” said the statement.
“Virtually all jurisdictions where our ships call impose taxes and/or fees based on guest counts, ship tonnage, ship capacity or some other measure. These taxes are included in our cost of operations,” it said.
It also noted: “The individual brands of Carnival Corp & plc are headquartered in a variety of countries throughout the world including the U.S., U.K., Germany, Italy, Spain and Australia.”
The cruise industry tax issue also was a point of contention during a Senate hearing in early March, when Sen. John D. Rockefeller questioned a CLIA CEO Christine Duffy about the financial and legal loopholes that enable cruise companies operating foreign-flagged ships to pay little or no federal taxes.
At the hearing of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on March 5, the senator pounced on Duffy, who was there to testify on behalf of CLIA’s member lines in a hearing that was supposed to be about safety and environmental issues. Rockefeller ultimately required the association to deliver the tax returns of CLIA member lines to the committee.
The tax issue has been quietly simmering since that hearing.
For cruise news and updates, follow Donna Tunney on Twitter @dttravelweekly.