NYTimes’ Teresa Tritch argues that US Congress should pass a bill in order to make inversions economically inconvenient for companies. This is a response to Pfizer’s recent bid to acquire AstraZeneca:
Pfizer was pursuing a specific type of acquisition, called an inversion, which would have let it reincorporate in Britain. That, in turn, would have put much if not most of its earnings, accumulated and future, beyond the reach of United States tax collectors and, conceivably, beyond the reach of taxation from any country.
But inversions are actually a blatant tax dodge, even if they are legal.
That’s where Congress is supposed to come in. Stopping inversions is easy. Under current law, a company can reincorporate abroad even if only a fraction of its stock – barely over 20 percent – is in the hands of new foreign shareholders. Raising that threshold to 50 percent would effectively end inversions.
I support the idea of closing off tax loopholes. It’s funny (and sad) that a company that was born and raised in America feels the need to reincorporate in Britain because the corporate tax rates are too high Apply a cutthroat pressure from Congress would curb this type of enthusiasm for tax breaks.
However, we shouldn’t simply focus on placing golden handcuffs on businesses. Ambitious small business can be caught in the crossfire of legislation like this, trapped with no room to grow. An incentive program that encourages American businesses to stay here, build jobs for the economy, and reap the benefits of innovation would be a positive method of increasing retention. Remember the maxim: You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
Then again, let’s see if Congress can muster up the courage to push the bill forward, lest they tamper with the corporate donors in their back pockets.