UPDATE 3-U.S. Treasury moves against tax-avoidance 'inversion' deals

Mon Sep 22, 2014 9:54pm EDT
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(Adds Obama, Medtronic, Durbin, Hatch comments, links)

By Kevin Drawbaugh and Jason Lange

WASHINGTON, Sept 22 (Reuters) - Moving against tax avoidance by corporations, the Obama administration took several actions on Monday to curb "inversion" deals that allow companies to escape high U.S. taxes by reincorporating abroad.

The Treasury Department announced new rules, effective immediately, that will reduce the tax benefits available to companies that have inverted, while also making new inversions more difficult to do and less potentially rewarding.

Because they took effect on Monday, the new rules might raise issues for some of a handful of companies that have agreed to do inversions, but have not yet completed them.

Fast-food chain Burger King Worldwide Inc is in the midst of inverting to Canada in a deal with coffee-and-donuts vendor Tim Hortons Inc. A spokeswoman for Burger King said the company declined to comment.

Asked about the impact on pending deals, a senior Treasury official told reporters on a conference call: "If they are closed and done as of today, then they are not subject to this. If they are closed tomorrow or after, they are subject to this."

President Barack Obama, who has sharply criticized inverting companies, said the Treasury Department's steps would "discourage companies from taking advantage of corporate inversions - moving their tax residence overseas on paper to avoid paying their fair share in taxes here at home."

The announcement of the rules followed months of growing concern on Capitol Hill, with Democrats urging prompt legislative action and Republicans pushing to address the problem later, perhaps in 2015, as part of a broader overhaul of the loophole-riddled federal tax code.   Continued...