Skip to comments.Congress Targets Tax Havens (Republicans Betray Their Principles - again)
Posted on 07/31/2002 7:38:31 PM PDT by Action-AmericaEdited on 07/31/2002 7:47:36 PM PDT by Sidebar Moderator. [history]
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Why don't we just do that NOW, so the companies would stop leaving???
Let the GATT and NAFTA treaties work out -- eventually there will be no tariffs, then we will have both FRee and Fair trade!
I believe that this is the vote that I watched the other day on C-SPAN. It was on a Rosa DeLauro amendment. The number of Republicans voting against was somewhere near 200 but there were enough voting for it that the Republicans knew they couldn't win. About 100 of the Republicans then switched their vote.
A similar amendment was introduced in the Senate on (I believe) the appropriations for the Defense Department. I watched a speech by Phil Gramm (R-TX). He called it for what it is. It is extremely popular - as evidenced by some of the ridiculous statements here on FR - but is it good public policy?
As Senator Gramm said, a company domiciled in the U.S. now pays corporate taxes on earnings from all of their enterprises - even those overseas. Other countries don't tax corporations as much as we do.
And, as Senator Gramm said, the tax code says that any company, no matter where they are domiciled, pays U.S. taxes on income earned in the U.S..
Thus, a company such as Stanley, if they changed their domicile offshore, would still pay taxes in the U.S. for income earned in the U.S..
The amendment offered in the Senate (by that communist Paul Wellstone) would forbid the Defense Department from buying from Stanley (if they changed their domicile) but would allow them to buy from foreign copmpanies in China, Germany, etc. even if they hired not one damned American worker.
Do you idiots out there really understand the problem?
No, there is not. But that doesn't change the fact that our government has become increasingly socialist, and thus the excessive taxes go to support a socialist redistribution scheme.
We pay those g*d*mn taxes involuntarily- why do you have a problem with that?
Well, yes. If the federal government stuck to it's Constitutional mandate there would be no need for those taxes, for you, me or corporations.
I ask, nay, demand the same from businesses who obviously are less patriotic than me !?
Corporations wouldn't pay one dime of taxes if the rate was 99% of their profits, it is passed down to the consumer or taken out of the return to the shareholders.
Expatriation makes for a more profitable US company and keeps jobs here.?!?
In the case of Stanley, they were only going to move the place of domicile, it was leaving the bulk of the operations here. If they can't save the $30 mil they were trying to save with the reincorporation move, to remain competative they may have to cut back on jobs in the States to get the same savings or move the production overseas.
It boils down to the fact that the government is squeezing to the point where moves like this make business sense. Anger over any proposed move like that should be directed at the government for making it uncompetative to remain when prospects are better elsewhere. The EU is complaining about 'unfair trade practices' in (relatively) low-tax nations (like the US), because their socialism is more complete and drains more production into the rat-hole of government, the least efficient part of any economy. Threats to sue or change the laws after a declared desire to relocate are tactics worth of a would be Stalin.
going offshore to avoid taxes every other comapnay has to pay.
No, only the companies that don't use all the tax avoidence strategies that are available (and legal). It is a breach of their fiduciary duty to not try to minimize that cost. Just because all companies don't take advantage of them doesn't mean the ones who do are 'cheating'.
Socialist may not be the best description of what we have today, a 'soft' fascism is more acurate since the means of production is still nominally owned (with highly regulated control) by individuals (shareholders).
We are far from a 'free market', the sheeple must awake and STARVE THE BEAST!
Because these expatriating companies want to be more competitive with their foreign counterparts by paying no tax at all.
The expatriating companies are not avoiding all taxes. They still continue to pay taxes in each country where they have income, including the United States.
The only thing that they are avoiding, by expatriating, is the additional tax load the the US imposes on foreign earned income. They continue to pay the high US tax rate on income earned in the United States. But, when they earn income in Hong Kong, for example, they only pay income tax to Hong Kong in the amount of 16%. As a US company, they would have to pay an additional 19% or more to the IRS, even though the income from Hong Kong stayed in Hong Kong. The same applies for Canada (29.1%), UK (30%), Taiwan (25%) and the all but four other countries that have higher tax rates than the US. Only US registered companies are required to pay additional tax to their home jurisdiction. Interestingly, though it is of no consequence, the US allows companies to write off taxes paid to other countries, up to the US tax level, but they do not allow a credit on excess taxes paid to the four countries that actually have higher taxes than the US. Just a thought.
What about their being competetive with other US companies that follow the rules? Steroids makes you more competitive but it's still cheating...
There are two points to address here.
1) The companies that are leaving are multinational companies that market their products or services in many countries and must even compete in the US against foreign multinational companies. Those few large companies that do not have to compete in the global marketplace do not feel the same market forces. The sad fact is, that many companies that tried, in the past, to ignore their foreign competition have been bought up by their foreign competition at bargain basement prices. In fact, there was an article in the Congressional Quarterly saying that from 1998 through 2000, 80 percent of all transactions of $300 million or more were foreign companies buying US firms. When that happens, it almost invariably results in many US jobs being sent overseas. With our tax system, we're doing this to ourselves.
2) They are following the rules. It is, in fact, following the rules that is largely responsible for corporate inversion. The directors owe a fiduciary responsibility to the stockholders, to maximize their return on investment, which includes legally reducing expenses, such as, but not limited to taxes. To fail to offer such a significant legal tax saving opportunity to investors would, in many cases, leave the directors open to massive stockholder law suits. Remember that in cases of corporate expatriation, it is the stockholders who make the final decision, not the directors. Far from cheating, they are actually obeying the rules, to both legally reduce taxes and protect themselves from law suits.
Expatriation makes for a more profitable US company and keeps jobs here.?!?
Yes. All that is involved with corporate expatriation is that the company files incorporation in another jurisdiction, transfers their US stock to that new company and gets a post office box or secretarial service in that jurisdiction. The jobs that were in the US, stay in the US. However, if the company fails to compete and is bought out by their foreign competition, the foreign company will likely transfer many jobs to their country. Similarly, if the US government continues to make things tough on those corporations, their only remaining choice may be to truly become a foreign corporation, moving the lion's share of jobs to another country. Corporate inversion (expatriation) is a defense mechanism against an oppressive US tax system. The only effect that it might have on jobs is to create more of them and/or make them higher paying, since their employer will be more profitable.
If they're expatriot how does that make them a US company?
It doesn't make them a US company. They become a foreign company with a US headquarters and a US manufacturing presence, just like many foreign companies that have always been foreign companies, but have chosen to have offices or even headquarters here.
If they move jobs off-shore then least they can do is pay their taxes.
They do pay their taxes. When all they do is expatriate, which is what the current flap is all about, they pay US income tax on US sourced income, as well as US payroll taxes. They also pay taxes in other countries on their income from each of those countries. The only difference is that, like all foreign companies doing business in the US, they don't have to pay additional taxes to the US on all of their foreign sourced income.
They buy there stock in dollars and if the company becomes supra-national by stock offering then they should pay to do business in the US!
As pointed out above, they do pay both US income tax and payroll taxes.
If you re-read what you posted it almost seems you're an advocate of a corporate new world order! Responsible to none.
No. Actually, a multinational company is responsible to a variety of governments. But, only a company registered as a US company is responsible for taxes on the same money in both their country of operation and their country of registration. That's just plain wrong.
However if they're expatriate then they should not be allowed to make political contributions that affect legislation!
No foreign company, including former US companies, may make US political contributions. That is one of the things that must be considered in such a move.
We all hate paying taxes, but the guy who cheats on his taxes cheat us all.
Agreed. But, corporate inversion is not only legal, but often a necessary defense measure, to insure the survival of the company. What you are talking about is called tax evasion, which is the illegal act of evading legally owed taxes. What those corporations are doing, by expatriating, is called tax avoidance, which is the legal act of arranging your finances in such a way as to pay the least amount of taxes that you legally owe. The court has ruled many times that taxpayers are under no obligation to arrange their finances in such a way a to pay the most tax.
Just because it's legal does not make make moral.
Actually, on this subject, the court disagrees with you. For example, the great jurist, the Honorable Justice Learned Hand went so far as to say that, "...there is not even a patriotic duty to increase one's taxes." (Helvering v. Gregory, 69 F.2d 810 (1934)). There is indeed, nothing moral about paying more taxes than the law requires of you. It's only stupid. You yourself avoid unnecessary tax, when you invest in a 401K or other tax exempt or tax deferred vehicle. Taking a mortgage deduction is avoiding tax that you are not required to pay. There is nothing immoral about that, just as there is nothing immoral about a company avoiding taxes that they are not required to pay. In fact, to fail to take advantage of any significant savings might not be immoral, but it would certainly be stupid.
Or does business sense supercede morality?
Not business sense. It's civil law. As pointed out above, by law, corporate directors owe a fiduciary responsibility to the stockholders and if they make gross errors, such as failing to offer the stockholders a $30 million or $50 million per year tax savings or even more, they can be held legally liable.
There is nothing Marxist about saying everyone needs to obey the law.
True. Very true, in fact.
I can only assume that what Weikel and strippersniper were referring to was that a "heavy progressive income tax", such as ours, is the second plank of the Communist Manifesto.
You posed some very good questions. I hope this helps explain why I believe that the problem is not the corporations, but the current laws and the lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, who continue to pass even more oppressive laws.
My origanal rant was a moral argument and not a legal argument, convaluted as it was, yet before I cede match point: I would like to ask a few questions based on your response!
Perfectly understandable. I too, am very disturbed about a number of moral issues, not the least of which are those surrounding the federal laws that are forcing corporations and individuals to choose expatriation as their only option.
But, as an avid student of history, I am acutely aware that the single most important factor that assures that we each have the freedom to live according to our own moral standards, is the Constitution of the United States, that established the underlying laws meant to prevent any subsequent government from taking those freedoms from us. Every time a bill is passed and signed into law that violates the intent of the Constitution, regardless of how good that bill might be, it weakens the Constitution and, subsequently, the protections guaranteed us by the Constitution.
There have been several times over the last decade or two that I have even agreed with the need for such laws. But, that's why the Constitution included a provision for amendment. The founding fathers knew that things would change and wanted to make certain that the Constitution could change with the changing needs of the people. But in recent years, politicians on both sides of the aisle have taken to using emotional arguments to justify passing laws that violate the intent of the Constitution. Whether it is the Columbine shootings that the Democrats used to justify more anti-gun laws or the terrorist attacks that the Republicans used to justify more anti-privacy laws, the result is the same. They weaken the Constitution.
Like you, I too, have many moral concerns with the things that are going on today and I find it very difficult to avoid a purely emotional response to issues that demand a deeper, more rational look at how my emotional response, if it were adopted, might further weaken the Constitution. I fully understand where you are coming from.
Why isn't every company rushing to exploit these loopholes in the tax law?
Each company has it's own individual set of fiscal and other circumstances that might or might not lead to such a decision. One very significant factor might be the amount of foreign business that they do and in what countries. In general, the more product or service that a company sells in other countries, the more significant the profit might be in corporate expatriation. On the other hand, if most of that business is done in high tax countries like Germany and France, then such savings might be substantially reduced. Another consideration might be whether their product or service is a retail item or a B2B item. Companies that deal primarily in retail items might be more likely to suffer consumer backlash in such a move, than companies that deal mostly with other businesses. The percentage of foreign vs US stockholders might even play a small role, although a larger percentage of US st3ockholders does not reduce director liability.
Actually, the reasons are virtually endless. These were just a few of the most obvious.
Which legislation allowed for foriegn firms to gain a majority shareholder advantage?
Actually, I am not aware of any legislation that would prevent that, in the first place. In fact, it is very important for our economy to have a significant amount of foreign investment. It keeps dollars in circulation. Since you have studied macroeconomics, you are certainly aware that the more times a dollar is turned over in a given period of time, the better the economy will be. It does no good to have US dollars sitting in a vault or earning interest in foreign investments. In fact, our government often goes to great lengths to encourage the return of foreign earned US dollars.
It's widely believed that one of the reasons for the stock market climb during the klinton administration, was the fact that the klinton administration had an unofficial policy of looking the other way, when Colombian drug lords invested their hoards of cash in the Colombian markets, who then turned around and invested in the US market, putting all that money back into circulation. Of course, the klinton policy for looking the other way, is also largely responsible for the corporate scandals that we are seeing today. I guess that I should be glad that Dubya isn't looking the other way. But, in his quest for maintaining high poll numbers, he has become so aggressive in pursuit of a handful of corporate crooks, that his actions are actually making investors nervous and making a bad matter worse, hurting the market for thousands of honestly managed companies.
Are corporations patriotic who go off shore even if their officers live and work in the US? What is the cut off point? Is it 70% of the board are US domiciled?
I'm not sure that I understand the question. When corporations expatriate, it requires a vote of the stockholders. The officers only present that option to the stockholders, for their consideration. Like I said in an earlier post, if the savings is significant enough, the directors would be in violation of their fiduciary responsibility to the stockholders, if they failed to give the stockholders the chance to vote on such a move. However, since directors are generally heavily invested in the company and stand to gain a lot, if the company moves, they often go on record as recommending the move. But, when all is said and done, it is the stockholders who must make the decision.
As for where the officers live, I am not sure of the answer, since all of the US companies that I am aware of have US officers.
I can tell you from experience, that any company that is involved with secret government contracts, cannot have foreign directors. A company that I used to work for, that had many contracts involving various levels of secrecy, was sold to a Japanese company and in order to keep those contracts, the Japanese company had to appoint an intermediary board of directors, through which all information and instructions flowed. As I recall, most of those officers were retired US military types. But, the important thing here, is that the Japanese directors were not allowed to directly control a US company involved in secret government work. (Incidentally, the Japanese company kept the division that they really wanted and sold off the portion of the company involved in security work to a US company, in short order.)
My original problem is that coporate officers care less and less for the firm and if they can improve their numbers, stock related, they get the big bonuses.
I must agree with you on this point, at least in part. The profit motive is a very strong incentive and the bonuses can be very lucrative. But on the other hand, most corporate officers are heavily invested in the company and a large part of those bonuses are usually in company stock, as well. Furthermore, they are required, as insiders, to register any sales of their stock. This means that the profit motive works in favor of the corporation. If they don't do good for the company and should decide to start selling their stock, they could actually cause the stock to drop to artificial lows, long before they could get their money out. Granted, that it does not always work that way. In the case of Enron, Ken Lay had actually registered his sales of stock, as required. But, since many investors (outside of employee investment plans) were so enamored of Enron, they chose to ignore that portentous warning sign and paid the price. But, most corporate officers can't expect such faithful investors.
Also consider that some of the companies that have nominally expatriated in recent years, might not have been able to survive against their foreign competition for many more years, had they not expatriated. In that case, even the profit motive would take a back seat to corporate survival. After all, a corporate officer, who has watched his company go down the tubes, is not likely to get either a bonus or such a lucrative job in the future. Then, add to that, the threat of litigation, should they fail to offer the stockholders the chance to vote on something that might mean a significant enough savings and you have what might be considered an irresistible force.
On the other hand, the whole problem could be avoided by eliminating the corporate income tax on foreign earned income, like almost every other country in the world. But instead, Congress and the President are making matters worse, by enacting and threatening to enact, even more oppressive legislation, which is making companies that might never have considered expatriation, nervous enough to consider it. Conversely, just one positive statement from Dubya, urging caution and that we allow the existing laws to work, would be enough to make many companies that are considering expatriating, put those plans on hold and, at the same time relieve investors, giving the market time to breathe.
But, since that would probably make his poll numbers drop to around 60%, don't hold your breath. Unfortunately, it seems that the one place where Dubya and klinton are alike, is that they both care more about their poll numbers, than doing the job they were sent there to do. At least, IMHO, that's the way it looks and I have seen no evidence to indicate otherwise. Unfortunately, if such evidence does exist, it is drowned out by the emotional rants of those who see no need to provide rational arguments.
I appreciate your considered approach and I hope that I have made my point without seeming too emotional. I just believe that the simple matter of a candidate calling himself Republican, is not enough. So much damage has already been done to the Constitution, by our elected officials on both sides of the aisle, that we must now demand higher standards of our candidates and elected officials, before it is too late. The measure must be the original intent of the Constitution.
It's not fair. These greedy companies should stay here and pay their taxes even if it means they have to go out of business!
So move there. Live like a king like the rest of the Costa Ricans.
Economy - overview Costa Rica's basically stable economy depends on tourism, agriculture, and electronics exports. Poverty has been substantially reduced over the past 15 years, and a strong social safety net has been put into place. Economic growth has rebounded from -0.9% in 1996 to 4% in 1997, 6% in 1998, and 7% in 1999. Inflation rose to 22.5% in 1995, dropped to 11.1% in 1997, 12% in 1998, and 11% in 1999. Large government deficits - fueled by interest payments on the massive internal debt - have undermined efforts to maintain the quality of social services. Curbing inflation, reducing the deficit, and improving public sector efficiency remain key challenges to the government. Political resistance to privatization has stalled liberalization efforts.
GDP purchasing power parity - $26 billion (1999 est.)
GDP - real growth rate 7% (1999 est.)
GDP - per capita purchasing power parity - $7,100 (1999 est.)
GDP - composition by sector agriculture:14%
Population below poverty line NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share lowest 10%:1.3%
highest 10%:34.7% (1996)
Inflation rate (consumer prices) 10.8% (1999 est.)
You can work in the fields, you can be a busboy, or you can work in a government factory....but hey, think of the taxes you'll save.
I won't take your advice on anything, much less where to live.
Nowhere did I say Costa Ricans lived like kings... you did.
Just like all your posts, you invent a topic and then assign it to someone else. Then, curiously, you attack the person to whom you assigned the topic. I said nothing about kings in Costa Rica! You did! Is this some type of self-injurious behavior?
Really, lewis, your mo is tired. It's the tactic of 9th grade debaters. At least you've stopped badmouthing CHIEF negotiator.