Tag: Corporate tax inversion

A corporate tax inversion is a strategy in which a foreign multinational corporation acquires or merges with an foreign company, then shifts its legal place of incorporation to that foreing location and often favourable corporate tax regime in that location. The multinational’s majority ownership, effective headquarters and executive management remain in its home jurisdiction.

Ireland’s corporate tax code has a holding company regime that enables the foreign multinational’s new Irish–based legal headquarters, to gain full Irish tax-relief on Irish withholding taxes and payment of dividends from Ireland.

Almost all tax inversions to Ireland have come from the US, and to a lesser degree, the UK (see below). The first US tax inversions to Ireland were Ingersoll Rand and Accenture 2009, As of November 2018, Ireland was the destination for the largest US corporate tax inversion in history, the $81 billion merger of Medtronic and Covidien in 2015. The US tax code’s anti-avoidance rules prohibit a US company from creating a new “legal” headquarters in Ireland while its main business is in the US (known as a “self-inversion”). Until April 2016, the US tax code would only consider the inverted company as foreign (i.e. outside the U.S. tax-code), where the inversion was part of an acquisition, and the Irish target was at least 20% of the value of the combined group. Although the Irish target had to be over 40% of the combined group for the inversion to be fully considered as outside of the U.S. tax-code.

Once inverted, the US company can use Irish multinational BEPS strategies to achieve an effective tax rate well below the Irish headline rate of 12.5% on non–U.S. income, and also reduce US taxes on US income. In September 2014, Forbes Magazine quoted research that estimated a US inversion to Ireland reduced the US multinational’s aggregate tax rate from above 30% to well below 20%.

Intellectual Property: The effective corporation tax rate can be reduced to as low as 2.5% for Irish companies whose trade involves the exploitation of intellectual property. The Irish IP regime is broad and applies to all types of IP. A generous scheme of capital allowances …. in Ireland offer significant incentives to companies who locate their activities in Ireland. A well-known global company [Accenture in 2009] recently moved the ownership and exploitation of an IP portfolio worth approximately $7 billion to Ireland.

In July 2015, The Wall Street Journal noted that Ireland’s lower ETR made US multinationals who inverted to Ireland highly acquisitive of other US firms (i.e. they could afford to pay more to acquire US competitors to re-domicile them to Ireland), and listed the post-inversion acquisitions of Activis/Allergan, Endo, Mallinckrodt and Horizon.

In July 2017, the Irish Central Statistics Office (CSO) warned that tax inversions to Ireland artificially inflated Ireland’s GDP data (e.g. without providing any Irish tax revenue).

U.S. inversions

Ireland has been the most popular destination for U.S. tax inversions, attracting almost a quarter of the 85 inversions since 1983.

Some of the most known US multinational Irish inversions are: Pfizer – Johnson Controls – Adient – Medtronic – Horizon Pharma – Endo International Chiquita – Perrigo – Mallinckrodt – Allegion – Actavis – Pentair – Jazz Pharmaceuticals – Eaton Corp – Alkermes – Covidien – Global Indemnity – Weatherford Intl. – Cooper Industries – Ingersoll Rand – Accenture – Seagate Technology – Tyco International.

In 2017 the U.S. tax-code was changed to combat inversions. In particular, the TCJA moved the U.S to a hybrid–”territorial tax” system reduced the headline rate from 35% to 21% and introduced a new GILTI–FDII–BEAT regime designed to remove incentives for U.S. multinationals to execute corporate tax inversions to Ireland. There have been no further U.S. corporate tax inversions to Ireland since these changes.

Belgium vs "Uniclick B.V.", June 2021, Court of Appeal, Case No 2016/AR/455

Belgium vs “Uniclick B.V.”, June 2021, Court of Appeal, Case No 2016/AR/455

“Uniclick B.V.” had performed all the important DEMPE functions with regard to intangible assets as well as managing all risks related to development activities without being remunerated for this. Royalty-income related to the activities had instead been received by a foreign group company incorporated in Ireland and with its place of management in Luxembourg. In 2012, the administration sent notices of amendment to the tax return to the respondent for assessment years 2006 and 2010. The tax administration stated that “Uniclick B.V.”, through its director B.T. and employees M.C. and S.M., invented and developed the Uniclic technology in 1996 and continued to exploit it, and that the subsequent transfer of rights to the Uniclic invention to U.B. BV was simulated. The administration added the profits foregone annually by the “Uniclick B.V.”, i.e. the royalties received by F. from third party licensees less the costs borne by F., to “Uniclick B.V’s” taxable base. “Uniclick B.V.” disagreed with this and argued, among ... Read more
Bristol-Myers Squibb in Dispute with IRS over "Abusive Offshore Scheme"

Bristol-Myers Squibb in Dispute with IRS over “Abusive Offshore Scheme”

According to the IRS, Bristol-Myers Squibb reduces its U.S. taxes by holding valuable intangibles in an Irish subsidiary. In a legal analysis, the IRS concluded that the Irish scheme saves Bristol-Myers Squibb up to $1.38 billion in US taxes. From Bristol-Myers Squibb’s 2019 10-K form, “Note 7. Income Taxes” “BMS is currently under examination by a number of tax authorities which have proposed or are considering proposing material adjustments to tax positions for issues such as transfer pricing, certain tax credits and the deductibility of certain expenses. It is reasonably possible that new issues will be raised by tax authorities which may require adjustments to the amount of unrecognized tax benefits; however, an estimate of such adjustments cannot reasonably be made at this time. It is also reasonably possible that the total amount of unrecognized tax benefits at December 31, 2019 could decrease in the range of approximately $290 million to $330 million in the next twelve months as a ... Read more
Perrigo facing billion dollar tax assessments in both Ireland and the US

Perrigo facing billion dollar tax assessments in both Ireland and the US

In July 2013 the Irish pharma company Elan was acquired by the US based Perrigo group for $8.6 billion (£5.6 billion). Ireland’s corporation tax rate was one of the main attractions for Perrigo and the deal was said to give Perrigo substantial tax savings due to a corporate tax inversion. The Irish 12.5 % corporate tax rate compared US rate of 30 % was further augmented by the trading losses built up over a number of years by Elan in its business as a drug development group. That meant that even with a $3.25 billion transaction like Elan’s sale of the rights to the multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri the company would still not have to pay any tax. The low-tax scenario envisioned by Perrigo did not last for long. First Perrigo was issued a $1.9 billion tax bill (excluding interest and penalties) by the Irish tax authorities for incorrect transfer pricing related to its sale of a 50% interest in Tysabri ... Read more
Accenture settles Swiss tax claim for $200m

Accenture settles Swiss tax claim for $200m

The Accenture settlement with the Swiss tax authorities results from a significant discrepancy in the valuation of intangibles in a 2010 inter-company transfer from Switzerland to Ireland via Luxembourg that was disclosed in 2014 as a result of Lux Leaks. The Lux Leaks documents show that in the 48 hours it took to complete the inter-company transfer, the value of the intangibles had increased by almost 600 percent from $1.2 billion to $7 billion. In a document to the Luxembourg authorities detailing the tax treatment on the transaction, PwC confirmed the re-evaluation, describing the $7 billion as “fair market value”. Accenture was the first known user of the “CAIA-tax scheme” in a U.S. corporate tax inversion to Ireland. Accenture-2010-Tax-Ruling ... Read more