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Finally, I'll just mention that there has been some discussion on the Apple board (as Apple has this "foreign profits" issue in spades, larger probably than Microsoft) that the foreign profits are held on the balance sheet as though the taxes have already been paid so there's not a huge hit if/when the money is repatriated (assuming it ever is). I'm not sure this is true, having never examined the books that closely, but Apple, at least, has the "advantage" of requiring a lot of foreign capital to build hardware, open stores, purchase parts inventory, etc. so they have some use for foreign profits. Perhaps Microsoft does too, I don't really know enough about the MSFT foreign operations to know.

Most likely, the balance sheet shows the full amount of the assets held overseas as an asset and a separate "set aside" for the anticipated "repatriation tax" as a liability.

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