This post first appeared at Campaign for America’s Future blog.
Burger King is the latest company announcing plans to renounce its US citizenship in order to dodge taxes. It plans to buy Tim Hortons and then pretend Tim Hortons bought them so they can claim to be Canadian. (Tim Hortons renounced its own US citizenship in 2009 and moved their headquarters from Ohio to Canada.)
The announcement is prompting calls like this petition you can sign by the Campaign for America’s Future that calls on Burger King’s CEO to keep the restaurant chain American or “I will dine elsewhere.”
Burger King Didn’t Build That By Themselves
Why is Burger King prosperous? Why do people feel safe eating food served at Burger King? Why do people recognize a Burger King when they see one? Why does something called “Burger King” with outlets across the country (and the world) even exist?
Every single step to Burger King’s success was backed and enabled up by our taxpayer-funded American system. Our government is the reason that Burger King is extremely profitable. Burger King didn’t make that road that brings customers to them, that school that educates their employees, that court that protects their trademarks, that fire truck and police car that protects their building… We the People did. And now Burger King wants to harvest that prosperity, take off from the country that made them what they are and stick us with the bill for those things.
But they still want us to eat their food and hand over our dollars.
“One Big Whopper”
Calling the Burger King announcement “one big whopper,” Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF), said the only reason for this “inversion” is to dodge taxes:
Burger King’s announcement is one big whopper. If the company goes through with an inversion and deserts America, its customers are likely to bring their business down the street to the nearest McDonald’s or Wendy’s. Walgreens got the message that its inversion would be very damaging to its brand, and it walked away from an inversion with a Swiss company. Hopefully, Burger King will do the same. While changing its address to Canada rather than a tax haven country may not appear on the surface to be so objectionable, if the intent is to dodge paying its fair share of taxes the American people are likely to be no less sympathetic to Burger King.
There is nothing stopping Burger King from simply merging with Tim Hortons and achieving whatever business synergies are expected that make this deal attractive. The only reason to do an inversion is to dodge paying US taxes.
Need To Fix This
Americans across the board agree that it is time to do something about these corporations that think they owe nothing to We the People and our government and system that enabled them to prosper. A recent poll found that about half of likely voters are aware of the issue of these “corporate inversions” in which companies renounce their US citizenship to avoid paying taxes to the country that made them great. Over two-thirds of likely voters disapprove of corporate inversions, including 86 percent of Democrats, 69 percent of Republicans and 80 percent of Independents.
Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) has introduced the Stop Corporate Inversions Act of 2014 and Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) has introduced a companion bill in the House. This bill would fight this and stop these corporation turncoats from taking advantage of We the People, leaving us on our own after our roads and schools and courts made them what they are.
Sen. Levin released this statement on the Burger King inversion plans,
Today’s report that Burger King may receive a tax break for renouncing its US citizenship is another example of why Congress can’t afford to wait any longer to put a stop to tax dodging through this kind of merger. If this merger goes through, there could well be a strong public reaction against Burger King that could more than offset any tax benefit it receives from a tax avoidance move.
Customers Should Eat Somewhere Else
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) issued a statement saying customers should eat somewhere else. Brown said the news of Burger King’s inversion plans shows that “Burger King’s decision to abandon the United States means consumers should turn to Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers or White Castle sliders. Burger King has always said ‘Have it Your Way’; well my way is to support two Ohio companies that haven’t abandoned their country or customers.”
If you agree, sign this petition directed to Burger King’s CEO: “Keep Burger King American and pay your fair share. If not, I will dine elsewhere.”
Brown’s statement went on to say, “We need an immediate fix to forestall a flood of these dangerous inversions” by creating a global minimum tax rate to “prevent a global race-to-the-bottom.”
We need an immediate fix to forestall a flood of these dangerous inversions and a long term solution that lowers corporate tax rates while instituting a country-by-country global minimum tax,” Brown continued. “This kind of common sense reform will close down tax havens that cost our country revenue and cost American jobs. Lowering the statutory corporate tax rate would put companies on a level playing field with foreign competitors and reduce the incentive for them to shift jobs and profits overseas. Creating a global minimum tax rate will increase investment in the United States, raise revenue, and prevent a global race-to-the-bottom.”
The views expressed in this post are the authors’ alone, and presented here to offer a variety of perspectives to our readers.