The voices of Tax Policy Center's researchers and staff
Inversion is the gift that keeps on giving for Actavis. Last year the pharmaceutical company reincorporated from its Parsipanny, New Jersey, home to Ireland, after a $5 billion deal with Warner Chilcotte. This year, before Treasury’s inversion curbs took effect, it purchased New York-based Forest Laboratories for $25 billion for tax savings. And today, in announcing its purchase of California-based Allergan for $66 billion, The Wall Street Journal reports (paywall) Actives could cut Allergan’s tax bill by somewhere between $240 million and $370 million.
Maybe Steve Ballmer’s purchase price wasn’t too high after all? The Los Angeles Times explains a long-standing IRS rule that came about in the 1950s. Then, Bill Veeck, who bought and sold three major league baseball franchises over his lifetime, convinced the IRS to give him a huge tax break on player salaries. Today, Microsoft’s CEO Ballmer could seek as much as half of his $2 billion purchase price of the Los Angeles Clippers in tax breaks, according to some experts.
In Belgium, tax authorities pinch the private arm of Switzerland’s HSBC. The unit has been accused of “serious and organized tax fraud, money laundering and unlawful exercise of the profession of financial intermediary.” The accounts in are held by more than 1,000 Belgians and include wealthy clients in the diamond trade.
Japan will probably wait on that second sales tax hike. The nation fell into recession in the third quarter, two years after its monetary stimulus and reforms. A sales tax hike from 5 to 8 percent preceded a drop in GDP in the second quarter. A second hike in the sales tax to 10 percent was planned for October, 2015, but economic officials urge against it.
Profit equals income less expenses. TPC’s Donald Marron explains as much to the US Department of Energy: Its new report on its loan program appears to indicate that its clean energy lending programs are making money. Alas, they are not. The DOE report documents gross interest received, and footnotes the number as one “without respect to Treasury’s borrowing cost.” What matters here, Marron argues, is the program’s social impact. But if profitability is important for DOE to convey, he concludes that “DOE owes taxpayers an honest accounting of the financial performance of its lending programs.”
Speaking of energy, a tax credit that might be blowin' in the wind. It’s one of the expired tax breaks that’s up for consideration in the lame-duck Congress. It provides 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour for 10 years, or can be taken as an investment tax credit. Extending it through 2015 would cost $13.3 billion. House GOP members—and their financial supporters—don’t like it, claiming it’s an unnecessary part of the President’s climate change agenda. They’d rather see a permanent research and development tax credit. It would cost $155.5 billion over 10 years.
As for the odds on tax reform… The GOP would like its new majority to accomplish tax reform as a first order of business, but President Obama’s latest efforts on immigration and climate change could make some members want to table that discussion with a government shutdown. Icing on the cake: Wall Street doesn’t seem to hold too much hope for corporate or individual tax reform in the near term. Whatever the GOP does, senior Senator Orrin Hatch reminds them that “we should not expect dynamic scoring to produce outsized miracles from either the supply side or the demand side.”
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