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Bramwell’s Lunch Beat: It’s Back – Monsanto Seeks Tax Inversion with Syngenta

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Jun 9th 2015
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Scott London, ex-auditor from insider-trading scheme, is out of prison, has a job
Scott London, the former KPMG LLP audit partner who pleaded guilty in a high-profile 2013 insider-trading case, is out of prison and has a new job, he said on Monday during an educational webcast for accountants, wrote Michael Rapoport of the Wall Street Journal. London said he got the job through a referral only a week after he was moved from the prison where he was serving his sentence to a halfway house. He didn’t say where he’s working, only that he is in “special projects.” London, who worked for KPMG for 29 years, pleaded guilty to securities fraud after admitting he gave tips about KPMG audit clients, like Herbalife Ltd. and Skechers USA Inc., to a friend who made illegal profits by trading on the information.

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Monsanto pursues $500 million US tax cut with Syngenta deal
Monsanto Co.’s plan to acquire Swiss chemical maker Syngenta AG and incorporate the combined company in the United Kingdom would be one of the largest US tax inversions ever, potentially cutting its taxes by more than $500 million, wrote Jack Kaskey of Bloomberg. In an April 18 letter to Syngenta released on Monday, Monsanto said it would combine the companies under a new parent in the United Kingdom partly to create “additional synergies.” The move could allow St. Louis-based Monsanto to shift most of its US earnings to the low-tax jurisdiction of the United Kingdom, cutting its tax bill, Robert Willens, a New York-based tax consultant, said Monday. Monsanto’s $45 billion buyout offer, which would combine its leading franchise in genetically modified crops with the world’s biggest maker of agricultural chemicals, isn’t driven by tax savings, the US company said in an email statement. Still, the inversion could nearly halve Monsanto’s effective tax rate, reported at 28 percent last year, Willens said.

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Tax-exempt groups give 2016 hopefuls a boost
John D. McKinnon of the Wall Street Journal wrote that several presidential hopefuls are getting help from allied tax-exempt nonprofit groups that have anonymous donors, a trend that experts say could pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the 2016 campaign. Already, the tax-exempt entities – typically organized under Section 501(c)(4) of the tax code – are doing work on policy development and voter research, as well as hiring and deploying staff, for a half-dozen closely aligned campaigns. Some of the groups are expected to spend large sums on advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts to help their favored candidates. Prominent presidential hopefuls benefiting from allied tax-exempt groups include Republicans Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, and Bobby Jindal. The Jindal-allied group, for example, has developed policy and paid for travel for the Louisiana governor.

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McConnell plans busy summer, but no tax reform
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is plotting an ambitious summer agenda aimed at demonstrating the Republican-led Congress can govern along with Democrats and the White House – but a major tax-code overhaul won’t be a part of the agenda this year, wrote Reid Wilson of Morning Consult. McConnell slammed the door on the likelihood the Senate would come to an agreement on major comprehensive tax-reform legislation this year. Some lobbyists had hoped at least some rewrite of current tax codes could be included, perhaps in a must-pass measure to stock the Highway Trust Fund. “We’re certainly not going to be able to be doing big, comprehensive tax reform with this president,” McConnell said. “The president is not interested in revenue neutrality, and he’s not interested in treating all taxpayers the same, so I don’t think we’ll get there on comprehensive.”

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The case for a carbon tax
The editorial board of the New York Times makes the case for a carbon tax, saying that it could be the best way to solve the problem of climate change. “A carbon tax would raise the price of fossil fuels, with more taxes collected on fuels that generate more emissions, like coal,” the editorial board wrote. “This tax would reduce demand for high-carbon emission fuels and increase demand for lower-emission fuels like natural gas. Renewable sources like solar, wind, nuclear, and hydroelectric would face lower taxes or no taxes. To be effective, the tax should also be applied to imported goods from countries that do not assess a similar levy on the use of fossil fuels.” But getting lawmakers to adopt a carbon tax will be difficult. In the United States, many Republican lawmakers, the coal-mining industry, and politically powerful corporations like Koch Industries oppose it.

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