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from Breakingviews:

Grubby assets shine in $5.6 bln tax arbitrage deal

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By Robert Cyran
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Grubby assets are being given a shine in a $5.6 billion tax arbitrage deal. Mallinckrodt, a specialty drugs company, is paying a 27 percent premium for Questcor, a rival barraged by regulatory inquiries. Why do it? The transaction moves profits to Ireland, where the acquirer is domiciled for tax purposes. It may be buying as many problems as taxman savings, however.

Mallinckrodt is an odd bird to begin with. Conglomerate Tyco bought the previous guise of Mallinckrodt in 2000. Tyco reversed itself, and spun off its health operations as a company called Covidien in 2007. Last year, Covidien spun off its drugs business as Mallinckrodt. The newly independent company then bought Cadence Pharmaceuticals for $1.4 billion earlier this year. Now it is adding Questcor.

There are cost savings from merging the companies and cutting expenses, but much of the appeal lies in financial engineering. If companies in low-tax domiciles buy U.S. assets, or U.S. companies effectively become Irish through M&A, their tax bills can shrink by as much as half. For one company, Valeant Pharmaceuticals, that fueled a more than 10-fold increase in its stock price since 2008. It also helped Endo International  and Perrigo in their dealmaking.

from MuniLand:

The Puerto Rico corporate tax question

The Government Accountability Office published a report estimating the economic advantages and costs Puerto Rico would have if it enters statehood. The biggest cost would be that Puerto Rico citizens would be required to pay federal income tax on their domestic earnings. Currently they pay federal income tax on income they earn outside of Puerto Rico.

The GAO estimates that If Puerto Rico had been a state in 2010, the estimated income tax paid by individual taxpayers would have ranged from $ 2.2 to $ 2.3 billion. The report also estimates changes in federal entitlement benefits that would flow to the island. In many cases there would be additional federal funds for the island.

from Breakingviews:

Official attention will make or break bitcoin

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By Daniel Indiviglio
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Official attention will make or break bitcoin. Scrutiny from tax authorities like the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and financial regulators around the world may deter off-the-grid types from using the digital money. Yet interest from investors and even creators of derivatives could start drawing bitcoin into the mainstream.

from Breakingviews:

Triple defence will shield Japan from tax burden

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By Andy Mukherjee

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

If history is a reliable guide, the Japanese economy will wilt when the country raises its sales tax on April 1. When Japan last increased the levy in 1997, consumer spending collapsed. But the three-pronged defence Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is putting in place makes a repeat doubtful.

from The Great Debate UK:

Is controlling your own pension really a good thing?

A central pillar of George Osborne’s 2014 budget was the announcement that pensioners will no longer have to buy an annuity upon retirement and that they would have more control of their pensions pots, including the freedom to withdraw cash without incurring penalty tax changes.

This is a true blue move that has Conservative values right at its heart – giving retirees the right to do what they want with their money. While in most instances being freed from the shackles of government is something to be celebrated, in this instance a little government paternalism can be a good thing.

from The Great Debate UK:

Backing up the rhetoric

John Angood–John Angood is Tax Senior Manager at BDO LLP. The opinions expressed are his own.--

Confidence up. Inflation down. Exports up. Unemployment down. Growth forecasts up.  With this backdrop it must have been difficult for George Osborne to draw up his fifth Budget. But what we have ended up with is a Budget for blue rinsers rather than businesses. He obviously thinks that everything is heading in the right direction with the economy and exports so there is no need to do much, despite all the supportive rhetoric around helping businesses.

from The Great Debate UK:

The Mediocrity Trap

Sheila Lawler--Sheila Lawlor is Director of the London Think Tank, Politeia. The opinions expressed are her own.--

George Osborne had good news to tell in his 2014 budget. The deficit continues to fall. Forecasts for 2014 growth, at 2.7% , are better than expected. Employment levels are now on a par with the US (he did not add that they lag behind Australia or Canada). The challenge he has set for this country is to increase exports to one trillion pounds by the end of the decade. That means the UK must increase its exports each year by 10.4 per cent.

from The Great Debate UK:

A good news story

--Cathy Corrie is a researcher at the independent think tank Reform. The opinions expressed are her own.-- Today’s budget was a good news story. There is now no major advanced economy growing faster than the UK. Yet underneath the chancellor’s celebration, the end of austerity is nowhere in sight. With national debt heading inexorably up to over 75% of GDP, in the words of the chancellor: “The job is far from done.”The chancellor today made reference to two strategies to secure the public finances for the long term; the first, an Annual Managed Expenditure (AME) cap to limit welfare spending, and the second, a new Charter for Budget Responsibility, to be announced in full this autumn. Through these new measures Osborne has pledged to “fix the roof when the sun is shining to protect against future storms”, by returning to absolute surplus in the years of growth. The goal is to allow the UK to enter recessions from a position of financial strength, not on the back foot.Yet while the chancellor should be applauded for keeping fiscal discipline at the top of the agenda, history shows he faces a daunting challenge to deliver on his promise. For twenty years, governments have allowed debt to build by consistently spending more in recessions than they save in periods of growth. Debt has been left £124 billion higher as a result. It’s worth noting that 22 out of the last 26 forecasts have promised a return to surplus. No government since 2002 has thus far delivered.

from The Great Debate UK:

Osborne’s pre-election gimmicks do little to address Britain’s long-term economic problems

Richard Wellings

--Dr Richard Wellings is Deputy Editorial Director at the Institute of Economic Affairs. The opinions expressed are his own.--

History is unlikely to be kind to George Osborne. Four years after he became chancellor, the national debt has exploded, the budget deficit remains at dangerously high levels, and an increasing share of tax revenues must be devoted to repaying creditors.

from MacroScope:

Last-ditch talks on Crimea

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet in London, a last chance by the look of it to make diplomatic headway before Sunday’s Crimean referendum on joining Russia which the West says is illegal.

Kerry said he would present “a series of options that are appropriate in order to try to respect the people of Ukraine, international law, and the interests of all concerned” and that sanctions would be imposed against Moscow if the referendum went ahead.

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