Trumped by the WTO

There’s US law and then there’s global trade law and if you ever felt inclined to believe that Congress rules the roost, just take a look at the Obama’s administration’s evaporated pledge to take on corporate tax evaders.

Obama’s talked for years about shutting down tax havens that let companies re-register overseas to avoid paying US taxes. He signed laws and hired new officers. He’s s also expressed support for the common-sense No Federal Contracts for Corporate Deserters Act which would bar tax evading companies from getting government contracts.

But when the talk hit the walk, the walk hit the skids. Or, more precisely, global trade rules.

According to Bloomberg News, when one of the nation’s largest re-registered companies argued that barring contracts violated World Trade Organization non-discrimination law, the administration seems to have sided with the manufacturer.

The company in question, Ingersoll Rand, switched its tax address from New Jersey to Bermuda in 2001 and then to tax-friendly Ireland in 2009. Still, a Homeland

Security lawyers cleared them for government work last year and the company won a federal contract this May to install energy-saving equipment on U.S. military bases.

According to Bloomberg, the White House has declined to comment. And that’s where things stand. Except, the exodus overseas continues. Burger King and the medical device-maker Medtronic Plc recently joined the flow of 50 US companies most of them in the past five years, taking off and taking almost $20 billion in lost tax revenues with them.

It’s the global corporation's world. We just live in it. And in case you were wondering where Ingersoll Rand lives. CEO Michael Lamach lives and works in Davidson, North Carolina, al administration office. His compensation jumped 30 percent, to $19.4 million last year on account of company profits surging. 

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