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Allan Sloan angrily denounces U.S. corporations who move their headquarters overseas to avoid taxes in his Fortune article, Positively un-American tax dodges, saying this leaves the rest of us paying their fair share in taxes for the many advantages these companies enjoy here.

Yes, leaving the country–a process that tax techies call inversion–is perfectly legal. A company does this by reincorporating in a place like Ireland, where the corporate tax rate is 12.5%, compared with 35% in the U.S. Inversion also makes it easier to divert what would normally be U.S. earnings to foreign, lower-tax locales. But being legal isn’t the same as being right. If a few companies invert, it’s irritating but no big deal for our society. But mass inversion is a whole other thing, and that’s where we’re heading.

We’ve also got a second, related problem, which I call the “never-heres.” They include formerly private companies like Accenture  ACN -0.61% , a consulting firm that was spun off from Arthur Andersen, and disc-drive maker Seagate  STX , which began as a U.S. company, went private in a 2000 buyout and was moved to the Cayman Islands, went public in 2002, then moved to Ireland from the Caymans in 2010. Firms like these can duck lots of U.S. taxes without being accused of having deserted our country because technically they were never here. So far, by Fortune’s count, some 60 U.S. companies have chosen the never-here or the inversion route, and others are lining up to leave. ...

Inverters don’t hesitate to take advantage of the great things that make America America: our deep financial markets, our democracy and rule of law, our military might, our intellectual and physical infrastructure, our national research programs, all the terrific places our country offers for employees and their families to live. But inverters do hesitate–totally–when it’s time to ante up their fair share of financial support of our system.

Sloan reports the growing exodus a major corporations "threatens to undermine our tax base," with on congressional committee estimating that we will lose $19.5 billion over 10 years, which he thinks vastly underestimates the potential loss.

Sloan gets even more angry when he notes that Representative Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) and Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.) have proposed a bill that would make inversions more difficult which he says has no chance of passage. This bill would only allow inversions if the company is doing substantial business in the country it is moving to and has at least 20% of its ownership living in that country, and the management change.  

He also recommend a change in corporate tax law, and a requirement that corporations report the income tax they pay each year and also they amount have accumulated in deferred offshore income, and a tax on such deferred income. He strongly opposes any tax holiday to get corporations to repatriate these dollars.

Sloan's article is well written, informative, and his perspective might lead you to believe you are reading one of our recommend posts rather than an article in Fortune. It is worth a read.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (31+ / 0-)

    Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited. Artistic License - 420420

    by HoundDog on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 02:59:30 PM PDT

  •  So... what day is it at DailyKos? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog

    Are we pretending tax competition isn't a thing today or are we?

    (Unfortunately, the Fortune article refuses to load.  It just display a blank page.)

    •  Let me check it MGross. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kurious

      Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited. Artistic License - 420420

      by HoundDog on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 03:27:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It loads fine for me M. Is anyone else having (0+ / 0-)

      trouble with it?

      I'll bring another copy of the link here.

      Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited. Artistic License - 420420

      by HoundDog on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 03:28:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Does this work for you? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KenBee

      Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited. Artistic License - 420420

      by HoundDog on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 03:29:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  "U.S. Business Has High Tax Rates but Pays Less" (6+ / 0-)

      Though on paper, U.S. Business Has High Tax Rates...

      ...But by taking advantage of myriad breaks and loopholes that other countries generally do not offer, United States corporations pay only slightly more on average than their counterparts in other industrial countries. And some American corporations use aggressive strategies to pay less — often far less — than their competitors abroad and at home. A Government Accountability Office study released in 2008 found that 55 percent of United States companies paid no federal income taxes during at least one year in a seven-year period it studied....
      and...
      The share that corporate tax revenues comprise of total federal tax revenues...has fall(en)  

      ...from an average of 28 percent of federal revenues in the 1950s and 21 percent in the 1960s to an average of about 10 percent since the 1980s...

      The effective corporate tax rate...has followed a similar pattern.  During the 1990s, corporations as a group paid an average of 25.3 percent of their profits in federal corporate income taxes...By contrast, they paid more than 49 percent in the 1950s, 38 percent in the 1960s, and 33 percent in the 1970s...

      Corporate income tax revenues are lower in the United States than in most European countries... Thirty-five years ago, the opposite was true — corporations in the United States bore a heavier burden than their European counterparts...

  •  I like how he whines so well, but never wonders (8+ / 0-)

    how all of these unpatriotic actions came to be legal in the first place.

    Crocodiles can cry, too.

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

    by Greyhound on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 03:18:51 PM PDT

  •  Walgreen's is in the middle of a decision. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dallasdoc, HoundDog, KenBee, blueoasis

    On the one hand corporate issues, and the current tax laws make it the rational thing to do and share holders are pushing for it. On the other hand the public is fed up, and Corporate is getting heavy pushback from customers and smaller share holders. They appear to be weighing PR and profit issues. Appear.

    This has gotten a lot of news attention in Chicago, where their corporate HQ is. They have been the beneficiary of a lot of public largesse via tax cuts , etc. and this could just be other big players using the media to push for them to stay here and make the northern suburbs, local politicians and the jobs, jobs, jobs agenda look better.

    Media is so easy to play.

    •  Walgreen's is an easy boycott target (7+ / 0-)

      They have stores on about every third corner in my city, often catty-corner from a CVS.  They have gotten heavily into vaccines as a profit center, but don't participate in the data-sharing systems that tell providers when a patient has had a vaccine.  This lets them give unnecessary duplicate vaccines, and fails to inform other providers when vaccines have been given. (They leave this duty to the patients, who almost invariably forget.)

      I'd love to see them excluded from Medicare and Medicaid payments if they made this move, but alas, our government is too corrupt to let that happen.

      I stand with triv33. Shame on her attackers.

      by Dallasdoc on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 03:25:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  They seem highly overleveraged. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dallasdoc, HoundDog

        Besides CVS, WalMart, and every other grocery store trying to get a piece of the same action, I don't see how Walgreen's business model is stable at all.

        And yes, easily boycottable.

        •  Maybe that's why they're scrounging for savings (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          HoundDog, kurious, alypsee1, blueoasis

          I joke with patients all the time that Walgreen's has three times as many stores as they have competent pharmacists.

          I stand with triv33. Shame on her attackers.

          by Dallasdoc on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 03:34:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  What an amazing moment of something sort (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Dallasdoc, KenBee, blueoasis, VeloDramatic

            metaphorically similar to "deju vue," At least, and experience that should have a name.

            I've known you since the first day I came here nearly 10 years ago Dallasdoc. Your UID has such a zing to it that I've alway read it as just one complete word that has its own self-defined meaning to me totally unrelated to either Dallas or Doc,

            So, when you wrote, "I joke with patients," a moment of surprise came over me like, "Dallasdoc" is a doctor? Why wasn't I informed of this? Why didn't he ever say anything?

            I always wish I had one of those cool names that develops its own meaning independent to the meaning of the component words. Corporations pay enormous amount of money to develop that brand glow affect. Like IBM, Exxon, Xerox.

            An odd thought occurred to me last week when I was thinking about Meteor Blades name, which is another example of a cool one. When I see it I don't usually think about what it might mean to have blades on a meteor. I've assumed this is some allusion to hockey blades on shoes going really fast so having a "steerable meteor" is a cool image. so the name works either way.

            I have noticed the doc part of it - the combination of Dallas from the "wild west" doc make me think of that old doc from Gunsmoke. But the last few years the two words flowed together.  

            Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited. Artistic License - 420420

            by HoundDog on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 03:52:38 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Isn't this the system we live under: the free (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog

    flow of goods and services world wide.  19.5 billion dollars lost over a ten year period doesn't sound like enough to write constrictive legislation on American companies.  It is good that our acumen in finance and business is shared with the world, I'm concerned about needless tinkering at the edges of our system when it might be better to let these companies go where they want.  This is a form of the US taxpayer investing in other countries so they increase in democracy and social stability.  I just will not buy into such a narrowly focused concern until I hear about all the possible outcomes to constriction of American acumen in finance and business sense.

    •  I'm WOrking WIth Dried Grass Art in My Living Room (4+ / 0-)

      so that I can get tech support help from the job of mine that went offshore to promote democracy. I'll never be able to retire because of that.

      Open up the fucking vote to the whole planet if that's who our government is founded to serve. God knows the financing of the elections already is.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 03:46:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The corporate world is becoming a global (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog, nextstep

    world and we better learn how to compete to keep companies and even lure them into the USA tax base.  

    "The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubt." Bertrand Russell I'm very certain that is true. 10−122

    by thestructureguy on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 03:43:29 PM PDT

    •  That way lies the race to the bottom (5+ / 0-)

      As can already be seen in the fights at the state and local levels.

      The right way to fix this is to make inversion either illegal, or not financially viable.

      "What could BPossibly go wrong??" -RLMiller "God is just pretend." - eru

      by nosleep4u on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 05:07:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The solution is how and what is taxed, not the tax (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        penelope pnortney

        Rates.

        The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

        by nextstep on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 06:00:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  So how do you (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          blueoasis

          propose we structure business taxes then?  What should and should not be taxed?  Do you propose a gross receipts tax?  VAT?  A stock transfer tax?  Some other type of tax?  A completely new, never been tried before form of taxation?

          I could potentially see a gross receipts tax working to eliminate the problem, depending upon how it is structured.  If it's just a straight-up gross receipts tax without any deductions allowed whatsoever, sure.  Once you start allowing deductions for business expenses, you start to get back into the territory of companies setting up foreign subsidiaries solely to act as containers for intellectual property and such, and "charging" the parent for licensing fees as a tax avoidance strategy - just as they're doing now.

          At the end of the day, a properly structured GRT is my preferred method of taxation on businesses, because that puts them on a level playing field to individuals, and the basis of how they pay their taxes is on their gross incomes, not just on whatever "profits" they feel like reporting.

          Regardless, having seen enough business tax returns in my life to fill 10 lifetimes, their current bellyaching over the taxes they do pay is largely unfounded.  As I've said numerous times before, if the public saw even a sliver of the shit I saw during my years in tax administration, there would be a large unruly crowd of people in DC carrying pitchforks and torches demanding corporations anecdotal heads.  Even the Tea Party wingnuts would be pissed.

          "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

          by Darth Stateworker on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 07:51:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Darth, long topic for a comment, but in simplified (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Darth Stateworker

            form on the highlights.  Sound like you have some real world experience in NY State government regarding business taxation.  That's great!  My comment below is written for the general audience, not just for yourself who is better able to get into the details.

            Keep in mind that a core goal in the following is to have the same total US tax burden imposed on imports as domestic production, while still being consistent with existing international trade agreements. Right now in the US, US made goods bear the full burden of US taxation, while imports bear little of it, and the exporting country frequently removes most if not all of their tax burden on what they ship here.  

            In answer to your question on business taxation at the Federal level see below:

            Business taxes would be what economists refer to as a "subtraction income tax"  at the Federal level.  

            Single tax rate of approximately 24%.  Only US sourced labor, goods and services, or those resold from US imported goods and services can be expensed (i.e., a US entity that has already paid the tax).  Immediate expensing of capital goods and inventory used in the US.  Exports are not included in revenue calculation. This combined with the personal income tax highlighted below gets the equal tax burden for imports Vs domestic products and services.  Business expenses that are actually a form of compensation for employees or customers ($500/person dinner, Super Bowl Party, PGA, etc.) are not deductible.  The reasoning for this is that this should actually be a deductible expense, but also be taxed as income for the person getting the perk.  By not having the deduction, this becomes the equivalent of allowing the deduction but taxing the individual (and business paying more for this tax) - but with far greater simplicity for the business, the person getting the perk, and government audit.

            For individuals there would be a negative income tax of $3,000 to $4,000 per person per year (the degree of balance budget and other factors sets this number), with 1/12 deposited monthly for all legal US residents (all ages, all incomes).  However, this removes the need for some assistance programs such as SNAP, some ACA subsidy, and some other income transfer programs. As part of this I would like to see social workers spend far less time on eligibility and do more "coaching" to help those in need improve their lives where practical.  In addition to being a means of having progressive taxation with the negative income tax, it also largely removes the negative incentives for lower income people that assistance is rapidly reduced as incomes increase creating an effective economic tax rate as high as 50%.  This has recently become much greater due to ACA subsidies.  There is also no loss of income transfer or higher taxation if there is a two parent household, as is the case today. When score keeping this approach for total tax revenue one must include the very significant income transfers that move from the expense budget to becoming a tax expenditure.

            Same tax rate for individuals as corporations (this is important to get the tax balance between domestic and imports as well  as meeting existing trade agreements) but is inclusive of Federal Income taxes, Social Security and Medicare taxes (inclusive of both individual and business contributions).  So for those who pay FICA on all earned income have an effective Federal income tax marginal tax rate of 10.5% up to the FICA limit.  However, there is also a credit of $2/hr up to 40 hs/week (approx $4,000/yr for a 2000 hour year) - its purpose is to approximate the cost of going to work (transportation, clothes, higher food costs, etc - child care credits are done separately ).  With this credit, a person can make unto $20/hr and effectively pay no marginal equivalent of today's Federal Income tax.

            For a one earner household of 4 making $10/hr working 2000 hrs/yr would have a household income of $18,000 from credits plus $15,200 in after tax income for a total of $33,200.

            For a family of 4 with one person working 2000 hours/yr, total tax credits received is $18,000/yr (taking $3500/person/yr credit).  So this family can earn up to $75,000/yr and pay no net to the Federal government (income, Social Security and Medicare).  Those who make less than $75,000 receive more in Federal tax credits than they pay to the Federal government. This is a significantly higher cross-over point than current law.

            For investments by individuals, some highlights are: tax rate on capital gains, royalties, interest, etc., are at the same rate as earned income: foreign taxes are only deductions, not credits; inflation adjustments for cost basis for assets held more than one year; US taxes paid on retained earning causes an increase in cost basis equal to the after tax US earnings; dividends are deductible as is interest, but 24% is withheld and sent in for taxes - even for foreign investors.

            Not all to the policy, but quite a bit for a comment.

            I have been in discussions on this with some economists who advise both Democrats and Republicans and senior executives at international companies. I regularly attend economic policy conferences.  I have also had about 20 years of experience in International business (Western Europe, Japan, China, Brazil, and Middle East) where I have discussed tax policy with officials from other governments.  

            The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

            by nextstep on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 11:10:32 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Interesting ideas. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              nextstep

              Have they been scored to reflect on revenues collected and how the tax burden is subsequently spread?

              I'm not entirely convinced however.  I don't think transfer payments are the answer to lowering TANF, SNAP, and other subsidy burdens.  Our current EIC hasn't accomplished that, so I don't know that revamping transfer payments will either.

              "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

              by Darth Stateworker on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 03:16:06 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Regarding transfer payments (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Darth Stateworker

                SNAP, TANF, etc are transfer payments, the negative income tax is a better way of doing this that is integrated into the tax code, so we don't get outrageously high marginal tax plus benefit phase out rates, that make it difficult for lower income people to enter the middle class.  It is also far easier for a low income person to know the money impact of having higher pay, or taking a job - while today it would take quite an effort to know this with all the various credits and transfer payments.

                As the negative income tax is monthly and independent of household income, it does not have the severe negative economic impart that SNAP, TANF, etc have, as incomes rise for those with low incomes and no need to periodically re qualify beyond proving you are still alive and a US resident or citizen.

                This does not replace all current transfer payments, as some people will have greater needs due to medical, psychological, family situations and other issues.  These should be handled by social workers.

                There is only a cosmetic difference of whether the negative income tax is accounted for as an expense or as a tax expenditure.  Some politicians are likely to prefer calling it a budget expense, while others will likely prefer accounting for it as a tax expenditure.  

                I have highly detailed spreadsheet models for this, but that is not good enough.  I am working towards having one of the highly respected university econometric models score this with both static and dynamic scoring.

                For the parameters I discussed, those making less than the cross over point are better off with the possible exception of a person who is a master at gaming and cheating the various transfer payment programs and working "off the books" making more than $20/hr.

                The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

                by nextstep on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 04:13:51 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I view transfer payments (0+ / 0-)

                  as just that - cash.  I do not view benefits that are controlled in the manner in which they can be spent to be transfer payments - merely more restricted entitlement payments/subsidies.

                  However, that's really semantics.  The true point is that if the EIC doesn't work to lower reliance on current social services programs (and I don't feel it does), I'm not sure simply restructuring the way we do it will work either.  However, I don't object to trying it to see how it works since it's a new idea, provided there is a mechanism in the legislation to revert back to more a traditional entitlement if the new payments are found to be less effective.

                  At the end of the day, I feel the real way to deal with this is a significant increase in the minimum wage so that transfer payments in any form are essentially eliminated as a need for anyone working any full time job.  Add in some legislation that makes it easier and promotes higher union membership, and I think we can solve problems much easier than a huge overhaul of the tax code.  I'm not averse to trying something different - but I'm skeptical.

                  "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

                  by Darth Stateworker on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 04:28:11 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  "$19.5 billion over 10 years" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog, blueoasis

    That's all?
    That's the Pentagon's coffee fund.
    I thought offshoring, "inversion" (TIL a new word) was WAY more costly to US.
    But $2 billion/year? Chickenfeed!
    My guess is that this is a (very) low ball estimate.

    If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

    by CwV on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 04:13:12 PM PDT

  •  Cash that leaves the country (6+ / 0-)

    should be immediately subject to the maximum taxation rate.

    Let the fuckers file for a refund if they want their money back.

    "What could BPossibly go wrong??" -RLMiller "God is just pretend." - eru

    by nosleep4u on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 05:00:12 PM PDT

  •  Taxes due the US should not change based upon (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis

    where a company has their headquarters. Our current situation is just terrible government policy. - the same taxes due should apply not just for companies we identify as US but for all companies in the world.  

    Policies that require people to make decisions against their own interests for the tax policy to work is a fundamentally defective policy. Anytime politicians and others say, group X is acting unpatriotic, you actually have a hopelessly defective government policy, and going along with the unpatriotic meme, just means the failed policy will continue longer.

    In addition, all the taxes embedded into the price of a product (personal and corporate taxes paid by customers, employees and investors, and inclusive of goods and services purchased from others) sold in the US should be the same percentage regardless of where in the world the product is made.  

    Our current policy essentially pressures businesses to locate as much of business operations and jobs as possible outside the US, and play international games to reduce their US taxes.  Then after we see persistent high unemployment and slow wage growth from pushing good jobs outside the US, people get upset over income inequality and declining median incomes.  

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 05:57:12 PM PDT

  •  alas, "patriotism" is such a quaint 20th century (0+ / 0-)

    notion.

    Workers have no country.  And now, neither do global corporations.

    In the end, reality always wins.

    by Lenny Flank on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 07:57:21 PM PDT

  •  What about the Corporation's Rights? (0+ / 0-)

    Aren't people allowed to emigrate?

    •  Yes, they are. Nations can forbid immigration. (0+ / 0-)

      The right to emigrate is a basic human right, recognized by most nations.  

      The right to immigrate into a country is not recognized by most countries, except for the case of asylum.  

      It can be argued that this makes the right to emigrate a dead letter.  

      "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

      by Yamaneko2 on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 11:36:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  might start doing things like colleges do (0+ / 0-)

    resident and non-resident fees
    for everything from going to court to licensing company cars.

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