Burger King is rolling ahead with its plan to move to Canada. It confirmed Tuesday that it will purchase Tim Hortons, a Canadian coffee and doughnut chain, for about $11 billion, one of the biggest foreign acquisitions since 2012.
This makes Burger King one in a string of corporate deserters in recent years. According to new data provided by the Congressional Research Service, 47 companies have inverted in the last decade, including at least seven this year alone. These companies are able to dodge US taxes by moving their headquarters, but not their operations, to countries with lower corporate tax rates. So called “inversions” may save the companies a few bucks, but they could cost the US taxpayer tens of billions of dollars.
The Deal: Founded in Miami in 1954, Burger King operates more than 7,000 locations in the United States, but only 300 in Canada. In 1964, the Canadian fast food service Tim Hortons was founded in Ontario and now has more than one store per 10,000 Canadians. Burger King will shell out $11.4 billion for the coffee shop, but both will actually be controlled by 3G Capital, a Brazilian-US investment firm. According to the Wall Street Journal, Alex Behring, who is currently Burger King’s executive chairman and a managing partner at 3G Capital, will head the new company.
Although America has a top corporate tax rate of 35%, numerous multi-national corporations do not pay that much. Instead, U.S. corporations paid an average of 12.6%, according to the Government Accountability Office. Burger King also does not pay the top corporate tax rate, but has a tax rate in “the mid- to high twenties” according to Mr. Behring. While Burger King CEO Daniel Schwartz doesn’t “expect there to be meaningful tax savings,” Canada’s federal corporate tax rate is 15%.
Moving Forward: Burger King should reconsider its own bid for the company. Since the news broke, the public has denounced this newest corporate deserter. #BoycottBurgerKing is now commonplace on Twitter and Burger King’s Facebook was littered with comments threatening to never return. Senator Sherrod Brown added to that chorus: “Burger King’s decision to abandon the United States means consumers should turn to Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers or White Castle sliders.”
When Walgreens announced its purchase of Alliance Boots, a European pharmacy, it received similar criticism, and it has since said that it will stay headquartered in the United States. They decided that paying their fair share was more profitable.
BOTTOM LINE: When more and more American companies move out of the U.S., ordinary Americans end up footing the tax bill. Companies employing the process of inversion are taking advantage of U.S. taxpayers and cheating the system, to the detriment of our workers and our economy. It’s beyond unpatriotic and it’s time for them to stop.
Congress failed to raise the minimum wage for the fifth year straight in July. Today, the federal wage floor of $7.25 is worth 30 percent less than the minimum wage of 1968, which was only $1.60. But thankfully, states and cities are realizing the dire need for action. Here are five cities that are in heated battles over raising the minimum wage:
1) Seattle. Seattle made national news this summer when it voted for a $15 minimum wage. This is a marked increase from the statewide rate of $9.32, but is consistent with a living wage. However, the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Restaurant Association have joined a lawsuit brought by the International Franchise Association seeking to halt implementation.
Most recently, an organizer asked for $1.1 million to stop the increase.
2) San Diego. The San Diego City Council raised the minimum wage this month, but Mayor Kevin Faulconer vetoed the action. With a poll showing 63 percent support of the raise, the City Council fired back last week, overriding the veto and enacting the stepped increase to $11.50. Now, opponents are circulating petitions for a ballot measure to reverse course. While organizers need 34,000 signatures for their petition, there are allegations that the sponsors are misleading voters.
3) Los Angeles. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti has reportedly circulated a proposed increase in the city’s minimum wage around to business leaders in recent weeks. Earlier this summer, the city saw debate over hotel workers’ wages. Garcetti is now expected to announce his plan on Labor Day: a gradual increase to $13.25 over three years, with annual inflation-based increases. Business leaders have yet to release their position.
4) San Francisco. San Francisco made history 11 years ago as the first city to raise its own minimum wage. Residents will again be asked to increase the wage this November, but this time to $15. In fact, there are several ballot initiatives throughout the Bay Area making similar increases. A recent report from researchers at UC Berkeley says that the $15 minimum would help almost a fourth of the city’s workforce.
5) Chicago. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is forging ahead and pushing for a citywide increase to $13. Though all Illinois voters will see a non-binding referendum on a $10 minimum wage, Emanuel now plans to take action regardless of the how the state legislature moves forward. 84% of Chicagoans support the increase to $13 and even among those who make over $100k annually, support is strong at 71%.
BOTTOM LINE: States and cities know that it’s time we have an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few. They also know that the 13 states which saw increases in their minimum wage this year actually experienced faster job growth. This Labor Day, remember that our economy grows from the middle-out, not the top-down.