Sloan: When US firms decide to ‘desert’ the country, we all pay a price

A Pfizer sign outside of a facility in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. | Courtesy of Montgomery County Planning Commission/Flickr
Pfizer is eyeing a deal with Allergan that would reduce its tax burden. | Courtesy of Montgomery County Planning Commission/Flickr

When I contemplate the spectacle of a New York City company combining with a company based in Parsippany, N.J., to form a company based in Ireland, I can’t decide whether to laugh or rant. So I will do a little of both.

What I’m talking about, of course, is the attempt by New York-based Pfizer to lower its income tax bills by buying New Jersey-based Allergan, which is a faux-Irish firm nominally based in Dublin. Pfizer would become an Irish company, presumably called Pfizer PLC.

Polite people call this a corporate inversion — but I call it desertion. Pfizer wants to keep all the benefits of being in the United States — our rule of law, deep financial markets, great places for employees to live, first-rate education systems — without having to pay for them.

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Allan Sloan is a columnist for The Washington Post. He is a seven-time winner of the Loeb Award, business journalism’s highest honor. View Archive

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