Some MSM outlets (Tim Worstall at Forbes, particularly) are writing about “bills of attainder,” and “ex post facto” laws, this morning. That is unfortunate. Unfortunate as such blather ignores the difference between criminal law, and the civil tax law, in the US. One’s liberty is a fundamental right. Thus we have constitutional protections against bills of attainder that would take an individual’s liberty away, based on conduct that was not unlawful when it occured.
While there are constitutional dimensions to tax law (recall the Supremes’ ACA of 2010 rulings here), there is simply no fundamental vested property right to avoid paying lawful corporate income taxes. The rules do change. Get used to it. No one is taking Pfizer’s liberty away. Pfizer is only a fictional person, and it has paid some US taxes (previously, and now) under a framework of changing regulations. [I should also note that Pfizer had only a “proposed” deal — not a closed one. Apparently, Mr. Worstall (and others) believe that announcing a proposal grants a vested property right, in the US. It does not. Ask the DoJ Antitrust division, for just one example. Vast troves of case citations available.]
Mr. Read has been on clear notice for two years now that the US Treasury Department was closing the loopholes he sought to use — in his AstraZeneca deal (since scuttled). So — here is a link to a more informed opinion — from a (former) Constitutional law professor, at the University of Chicago:
. . . .First, the Treasury Department is issuing a temporary rule to make it less beneficial for foreign companies to acquire multiple U.S. subsidiaries over a short window of time or through a corporate inversion. The new rule would curb this practice by preventing a foreign company that acquires multiple American companies in stock-based transactions from using the resulting increase in size to avoid the current inversion thresholds for a newly acquired U.S. subsidiary. . .
Onward — more soon — as time permits. . . smile.