The Treasury Department imposed tough new curbs on corporate inversions Monday, shocking Wall Street and throwing into doubt the $150 billion merger between Pfizer Inc. and Allergan PLC, which was on track to be the biggest deal of its kind.The U.S. has among the highest corporate tax rates in the world, in addition to being alone among developed countries in taxing the overseas earnings of foreign subsidiaries.
The Treasury move, which was more aggressive than anticipated, sent Allergan’s shares tumbling 19% in after-hours trading and could stall a trend in corporate deal-making that has seen companies searching for ways to escape the U.S. tax net. Pfizer shares edged 0.9% higher.
The new rules, the government’s third wave of administrative action against inversions, will make it harder for companies to move their tax addresses out of the U.S. and then shift profits to low-tax countries using a maneuver known as earnings stripping.
Message to global business leaders: don't start a company in the U.S., because even if you don't mind the high taxes at first, someday you might, and you won't ever be allowed to leave.