U.S. senator says Warren Buffett called
him about tax inversions
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[September 12, 2014]
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senator
Orrin Hatch, the top Republican on the tax-writing Finance Committee,
said billionaire investor Warren Buffett called him recently to find out
what Congress might do about companies that move abroad for tax
Lawmakers, particularly Democrats, are concerned about inversions,
in which a U.S. company buys a foreign competitor and makes its home
country the new tax domicile. The deals often result in lower tax
rates for the inverted company.
Buffett, who has sided with President Barack Obama's Democrats on
many tax issues, was criticized by some Democrats when he agreed to
put up some cash for Burger King Worldwide's $11.5 billion deal to
buy Canadian chain Tim Hortons.
Democrats slammed the deal after Burger King said it would be taxed
as a Canadian company. Buffett defended his role and said the move
was not really about taxes.
Hatch said during a speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on
Thursday that, before that fuss erupted, Buffett had wanted to know
what lawmakers might propose on inversions.
"He called me to say, 'You've got to do something about tax
inversions," the Utah senator said. "I believe that was before he
entered into the Burger King situation."
Democrats have proposed numerous ways to make inversions more
difficult or less financially lucrative for companies. Hatch said on
Thursday that many of those ideas were driven by politics.
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He and Senator Ron Wyden, the top lawmakers on the Senate Finance
Committee, say they are working on their own inversion plan but have
not given details of what they are considering.
Hatch said Buffett, who he called a friend, has said in the past
that responsible businesses try to reduce their tax bills and
sometimes make transactions that are driven by taxes.
"I don't blame him," Hatch said. "I don't like it, but he's living
within the law."
(Reporting by Emily Stephenson; Editing by John Whitesides and Ken
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