美國的稅負倒置 Tax Inversion



Tax Inversion稅負倒置
How U.S. Companies Buy Tax Breaks 看美國公司如何買到稅賦優惠
By Zachary R. Mider | Published May 27, 2014

Pfizer has been a U.S. company since a German-born chemist by that name opened a red-brick laboratory in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn in 1849. This year, it proposed to become a British firm. The reason has nothing to do with manufacturing costs or access to foreign markets. It’s to escape taxes. A financial exercise known as an “inversion” would allow it to lower its tax bills by acquiring a legal address abroad. Strange as the idea sounds, it’s an inevitable outgrowth of a peculiarity of the U.S. tax code and is becoming increasingly popular among American companies. Pfizer is the biggest and best known to join the trend.


The Situation 狀況

About 41 U.S. companies have reincorporated in low-tax countries since 1982, including 11 since 2012. Three more plan to do so this year. A lot of drug companies are doing it, and low-tax Ireland is a popular corporate home. The pace is quickening despite a2004 law that legislators had promisedwould end the practice, and despite two decades of efforts by the Internal Revenue Service to rein it in. Nowadays, most companies achieve inversion by acquiring a foreign company at least 25 percent their size. That’s how Pfizer proposed to go British, through a takeover of AstraZeneca that has since been rejected. A change of address doesn’t necessarily mean a real move. Companies are free to keep their top executives in the U.S., as New York-based Pfizer would have done.

自1982年以來有41個美國公司重新設籍在低稅負國家,包括了2012年之後的11家。今年有3家正計畫這麼做。有很多製藥公司這麼做,低賦稅的愛爾蘭就很受歡迎。儘管在2004 law中,立法者曾承諾將會終結這種做法,儘管國稅局花了20年時間要收服它,但倒置的步伐仍加快。現今,大部份的公司,透過取得約本身規模25%的外國公司,完成了倒置。這正是輝瑞計畫到英國的做法,透過併購AstraZeneca,然而此計畫被拒絕了。地址的變更並不一定要真的搬遷,公司可以自由選擇把主管高層留在美國,就像輝瑞駐在紐約一樣。

The Background 背景

Source: Data Compiled by Bloomberg

It’s easy to see why multinational companies like to flee the U.S. tax system. The U.S. corporate income tax rate, 35 percent, is the highest in the developed world. The U.S. is also one of the few countries that makes its companies pay that rate on all the worldwide income it brings home — even if the profit was generated by a subsidiary in a foreign country with low taxes, such as Ireland. Many nations, including the U.K. and Canada, tax only domestic profits. One perverse result is that an independent U.S. company can end up paying more taxes than an identical U.S. company owned by a foreign parent. By creating or buying a foreign parent, a company escapes U.S. tax on worldwide income. Drug and technology companies find this particularly enticing because their profits stem from intellectual property such as patents. Transfer those patents to a subsidiary in a zero-tax jurisdiction like Bermuda, and voila! The bulk of profits, which would otherwise face the 35 percent income tax rate, aren’t taxed anywhere.


IRS Chief Says U.S. Can’t End Companies’ Offshore Tax Deals 美國國稅局長說美國無法阻止企業境外節稅交易

The U.S. government probably can’t take regulatory action to stop companies from lowering tax bills through deals that put their legal addresses outside the country, John Koskinen, commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, said today. 國稅局局長John Koskinen今天說,美國政府沒辦法對那些藉由把稅居地移到海外的公司,採取監管行動期防止減少稅賦。

Pfizer Inc. (PFE) this week proposed the biggest such deal yet, a $98.7 billion takeover of AstraZeneca Plc (AZN) that would move the largest U.S. drugmaker to the U.K. for tax purposes and lower its tax rate. 為了降低稅負,輝瑞公司(PFE)本週提出了有史以來最大交易案,用美元987億收購阿斯利康(AZN),將這個美國最大的製藥商搬到英國去。

“We’ve done, I think, probably all we can within the statute,” Koskinen, 74, told reporters in Washington today, saying the trend of corporate moves point up the need to revise the U.S. tax code. “We try to make sure people are within the bounds, but if they’re within the bounds, if they play according to the rules, then they have a right to do that.” 74歲的Koskinen告訴華盛頓記者,“我想,在法律的範圍內我們已經做了一切能做的。”企業外移的趨勢凸顯了修改美國稅法必要。 “我們努力的確保人民受法令約束,但如果他們確實受法令約束也依法而行,那麼他們就有這樣做的權利。”

Koskinen’s remarks show the limits of the government’s ability to respond without Congress and suggest that the Obama administration won’t make a regulatory move to stop or limit so-called corporate inversions. 科斯基寧的講話表明在無國會政府能力的限制,並建議歐巴馬政府將不會做出監管舉措,以阻止或限制所謂的企業倒置。

Pfizer would join at least 19 other companies making or contemplating similar transactions, including Chiquita Brands International (CQB) Inc. and Omnicom Group (OMC) Inc., the largest U.S. advertising firm. 輝瑞公司將參與或考慮參與至少其他19個公司的交易,包括奇基塔品牌國際(CQB)公司和宏盟集團(OMC)公司,美國最大的廣告公司

Cracking down on deals in which U.S. companies move their legal address outside the country to pay lower taxes is a priority for the Obama administration, a Treasury Department official said earlier today. 財政部官員今天稍早說,打擊這些美國企業為減少賦稅而將稅居地移往海外所進行的交易,是歐巴馬政府的首要工作。