NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Burger King Looks to Move to Canada, Escape U.S. Taxes

August 27, 2014

American fast food chain Burger King surprised many when news arose that the $9.6 billion hamburger joint is in talks to purchase a Canadian donut chain and move its headquarters to Ontario, Canada. Jon Hartley, co-founder of Real Time Macroeconomics LLC, explains in Forbes that the Burger King proposal is a reflection of Canada's more favorable tax environment.

Burger King has proposed a "tax inversion" -- merging with a foreign company (in this case, a popular coffee and donut shop in Canada called Tim Horton's) and reincorporating itself abroad. As long as Tim Horton's shareholders are the owners of at least one-fifth of Burger King's shares after the merger, Burger King will no longer be considered an American company for tax purposes.

Why would Burger King move?

  • Canada's corporate tax rate is 26.5 percent -- nearly 10 percentage points below the 35 percent corporate tax rate in the United States.
  • According to accounting firm KPMG, Canada has the most business-friendly tax system of all developed countries.
  • When compared to what companies must pay in taxes in the United States, taxes in Canada are just 53.6 percent of the U.S. tax burden. (For the U.K., that figure is 66.6 percent and for the Netherlands, 74.5 percent.)

Taxes are not cheap (Burger King paid $88.5 million in taxes in 2013), and the Burger King proposal highlights how a burdensome a tax regime can change corporate behavior.

Source: Jon Hartley, "Burger King's Tax Inversion and Canada's Favorable Corporate Tax Rates," Forbes.com, August 25, 2014.

 

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