Dick Durbin Has a Beef With Burger King

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 20: U.S. Senate Majority Whip Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) (R) and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (L) participate in a news briefing after their meeting June 20, 2012 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Goodell was on the Hill to discuss bounties in professional sports.
National Journal
Michael Catalini
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Michael Catalini
Aug. 26, 2014, 11:20 a.m.

A top Sen­ate Demo­crat is blast­ing Bur­ger King’s plan to buy Ca­na­dian cof­fee and dough­nut firm Tim Hor­tons.

Ma­jor­ity Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Sen­ate’s No. 2 Demo­crat, has been a lead­ing crit­ic of so-called tax in­ver­sions, in which a U.S.-based com­pany buys a for­eign firm for the new coun­try’s lower cor­por­ate tax rate.

On Tues­day, Durbin raised ques­tions about the fast-food com­pany’s pat­ri­ot­ism.

“With every new cor­por­ate in­ver­sion, the tax bur­den in­creases on the rest of us to pay what these cor­por­a­tions don’t,” he said in a state­ment. “I’m dis­ap­poin­ted in Bur­ger King’s de­cision to re­nounce their Amer­ic­an cit­izen­ship. I call on com­pan­ies cur­rently mulling this tax dodge to re­con­sider, and on Con­gress to pro­tect U.S. tax­pay­ers from more of these schemes.”

Bur­ger King said it based its de­cision on in­ter­na­tion­al growth op­por­tun­it­ies, the As­so­ci­ated Press re­por­ted. But, in a sign that Bur­ger King was los­ing con­trol of the nar­rat­ive sur­round­ing the ac­quis­i­tion, many re­ports about the deal centered on the tax in­ver­sion.

This is not the first time has Durbin waged a PR cam­paign against com­pan­ies weigh­ing tax in­ver­sions. Earli­er this sum­mer, Durbin praised Illinois-based phar­macy Wal­greens for choos­ing not to in­vert. That de­cision came after Durbin re­peatedly and pub­licly called for the com­pany to keep its cor­por­ate headquar­ters in the U.S.

Many in Con­gress want to pur­sue le­gis­la­tion to ad­dress tax-in­vert­ing com­pan­ies, but no con­sensus meas­ures have emerged. Sen­ate Fin­ance Com­mit­tee Chair­man Ron Wyden of Ore­gon said earli­er this month he’s work­ing with Sen. Chuck Schu­mer, the No. 3 Sen­ate Demo­crat, and rank­ing mem­ber Or­rin Hatch of Utah, on a bi­par­tis­an bill, but de­tails are sketchy.

“This is­sue de­mands a res­ol­u­tion in the near term and I hope to have bi­par­tis­an le­gis­la­tion in place come Septem­ber,” Wyden said in a state­ment.

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