by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Tim Hortons earned more than $425 million last year, which is about twice what Burger King earned, even though the stock market value of each company was about the same before the deal was announced.
On the other hand, Burger King is probably the bigger taxpayer. The U.S. federal corporate tax rate is about 35% (and state taxes range up to 10 percentage points more), while the Canadian rate is about 15%. Even more importantly, Canada does not presume to reach into corporate profits earned in other countries the way the U.S. does.
Putting any multinational company outside the reach of the American universal tax man makes good sense, whether the method is a direct departure from the U.S., a foreign takeover of a U.S. firm, or a corporate inversion, which makes a departure look like a takeover.
Hush. We are not supposed to look at the tax implications of the merger of Burger King and Tim Hortons, which is this week’s prime example of an inversion. Warren Buffett, who is going to put $3 billion of Berkshire Hathaway money into preferred stock in the new venture, joins Burger King CEO Daniel Schwartz in denying that there will be significant tax benefits. The deal is all about creating the third-largest fast-food enterprise in the world, they say.
Talk about a whopper. Burger King and Tim Hortons have aspirations for growth with opportunities primarily outside of North America. Neither Burger King nor a combined company can earn as much from foreign revenues if they have to pay whopping big U.S. taxes on their offshore profits.