Friday 23 August 2019

Donald Trump blasts Pfizer-Allergan lower corporation tax deal as 'disgusting'

Tax inversion deal gives Pfizer access to Ireland's 12.5pc lower corporation tax

Donald Trump during a campaign stop in Birmingham, Alabama
Donald Trump during a campaign stop in Birmingham, Alabama

US politicians condemned Pfizer Inc's deal with Allergan, bringing another round of hand-wringing in Washington over the corporate tax code, though legislative action before 2017 is unlikely.

Democrats heaped the most criticism on the New York-based drug maker, with Hillary Clinton accusing Pfizer of using legal loopholes to avoid its "fair share" of taxes in a deal that she said "will leave U.S. taxpayers holding the bag."

The front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination in the November 2016 election said she will propose steps to prevent more inversions, but she did not provide details. "We cannot delay in cracking down on inversions that erode our tax base," said the ex-U.S. secretary of state and former New York senator in a statement.


Republican front-runner Donald Trump, who has called for a corporate tax overhaul, called the deal "disgusting" in a statement, saying "our politicians should be ashamed."

Pfizer is doing the largest inversion deal of all time. In a $160-billion transaction, it plans to move its tax address from the United States to Ireland, if only on paper, by buying and merging into Allergan, a smaller, Dublin-based competitor and access a lower 12.5pc corporation tax move.

The combined company will be called Pfizer and will be run by Pfizer's CEO, with executive management staying in New York and extensive operations across the United States, but it will no longer be taxed as a U.S. company.

More than 50 similar deals have been done over three decades by well-known companies such as Medtronic Plc, Fruit of the Loom and Ingersoll-Rand Plc. Congressional researchers have estimated inversions, left unchecked, will cost the U.S. Treasury nearly $20 billion in the next 10 years.

The White House declined to comment on Pfizer's deal, but a spokesman told reporters in a briefing that Congress should take action to prevent more such transactions.

The U.S. Treasury Department last week unveiled new rules to clamp down on inversions, its second attempt to do so since a wave of deals peaked in September 2014. But the latest rules amounted to tweaks of existing law and will not impede the Pfizer-Allergan transaction, tax experts said.

Senator Bernie Sanders, Clinton's chief rival for the Democratic nomination, said the deal "would allow another major American corporation to hide its profits overseas."

Perhaps anticipating the deal would draw fire, Pfizer CEO Ian Read sent a letter on Monday to senior senators.

The letter said, "We will maintain our global operational headquarters in New York City. At the time we close the transaction, we will have over 40,000 employees across 25 states ... We will be gaining greater access to resources that will enable us to make significant investments in the U.S."


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