Since 1862, an obscure company called American Bureau of Shipping has been approving oceangoing vessels as seaworthy. The Houston-based firm reported $3.17 billion in revenue and just less than $600 million in profits from ship inspections from 2004 to 2010 and paid no U.S. income taxes on those earnings.
Harvard University owns a hotel overlooking the Charles River that charges as much as $300 a night for a room. Yet the country’s richest higher-education institution doesn’t pay a cent in taxes on revenue from the property in Boston and hasn’t for at least five years. Now, the federal government wants to know: are taxpayers getting shorted?