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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

In Which We Solve the Refugee Crisis

American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has agreed to merge with Irish drug company Allergan.  Even though Pfizer is a considerably larger company, under the conditions of the deal Allergan will technically be the "buyer."  The reason?  Corporate inversion!  A fancy term for legal tax evasion.  See, because Pfizer will suddenly, officially, become an "Irish" company--despite the fact that the bulk of Allergan's business, like Pfizer's, is actually conducted in the United States--Pfizer will be subject to Irish corporate tax rates, which are considerably lower than those of the US.  Conservatives will no doubt shriek that this just proves that American taxes are too high, driving venerable corporations like Pfizer to such extremes of financial gamesmanship.  One wonders how much American governmental largesse has found its way into Pfizer's research and development coffers--to say nothing of protections offered by American patent laws and other governmental services that Pfizer is now seeking not to have to pay for.  But never mind that.

As much as one's gorge rises at Pfizer's behavior, there is a silver lining: I think this suggests a solution to the Syrian refugee crisis.  I'm thinking that, if American families take in refugees, the Americans could declare that the refugees are actually "sheltering" them--and that they--the Americans--should therefore be subject to tax rates of the refugees' original homes.  I frankly have no idea what Syria's federal tax rate is, but even if it's considerably higher than the US', I don't see Bashar al-Assad coming over to collect. 

Of course it's a ridiculous proposal: Ludicrous tax dodges are only for multi-billion dollar companies seeking exorbitant profit, not for people displaying exorbitant generosity.

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