Sloan: Want to stop corporate tax deserters? Start with this.

A Pfizer sign outside of a facility in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. | Courtesy of Montgomery County Planning Commission/Flickr
Pfizer’s acquisition of Allergan is tantamount to corporate desertion, Allan Sloan says. | Courtesy of Montgomery County Planning Commission/Flickr

Corporate taxes have become a hot item since Pfizer’s announcement last week that it has made a $160 billion deal to become the biggest tax deserter in U.S. history.

Numbers fill the air like autumn leaves on a windy day — except that the numbers are being shouted rather than falling quietly. Alas, as we will soon see, most, if not all, of the numbers being flung around are totally inaccurate.

New York-based Pfizer, as you know, says it wants to lower its U.S. corporate income tax bill by combining with Allergan, a faux-Irish firm that deserted the United States in 2013 but continues to be run out of Parsippany, N.J.

Okay. So what’s Pfizer’s U.S. corporate income tax bill for a given year? What’s Allergan’s? Good questions — to which you can’t get answers. No one outside a company and some of its advisers knows what it pays for a given year, and none of them will tell us.

Let me explain.

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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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