ATR Supports H.R. 4058, the “Obamacare Full Disclosure Act”

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Thursday, November 19th, 2015, 2:31 PM PERMALINK

Earlier this week, Congressman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) introduced H.R. 4058, the “Obamacare Full Disclosure Act.” Since it was passed five years ago, Obamacare has led to cancelled plans both through onerous mandates and regulations and through the failed co-op program. This legislation helps highlights the true damage the law has caused to American families and businesses by informing customers with cancelled plans that it occurred because of Obamacare. ATR supports this important, much-needed legislation and urges all members of Congress to co-sponsor and support it.

When Obamacare came into effect, the law required insurance plans to cover an extensive range of services and medications, far above what was already offered by many plans. Not only did these new additions cause health insurance to increase, this regulation also resulted in many individuals losing their existing plans, despite the President’s assurances that if you like your plan you can keep it.

More recently, almost 750,000 individuals and families lost their plans due to Obamacare co-op closures. Of the 23 taxpayer funded community based insurance alternatives, 12 have already shut down, costing taxpayers over $1.3 billion in lost loans. With many of the remaining co-ops in financial trouble, it appears a matter of time before more customers lose health insurance thanks to Obamacare.

By informing individuals and families why their health insurance was cancelled, H.R. 4058 ensures greater public transparency and better informs the American public about true damage the law is causing.

Educating consumers about the damage caused by new Obamacare regulations is both important and commonsense. ATR supports the Obamacare Full Disclose Act and urges Congress to support and pass this legislation.

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Grover Norquist Calls for End to Sugar Subsidies at Hill Briefing

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Thursday, November 19th, 2015, 11:22 AM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist this week spoke at a Congressional Briefing on U.S. sugar reform hosted by Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Penn.), where Mr. Norquist and three other experts called for an end to policies under the U.S. Sugar Program that harm American taxpayers, consumers, and businesses.

Addressing a standing room only crowd at the Rayburn House Office Building, Mr. Norquist charged that the sugar program amounts to a system of corporate welfare that allows the sugar industry to “get rich on other people’s money,” branding the sugar reform fight as “the new Ex-Im.” 

Norquist also issued a warning to Congress that “those politicians who vote to maintain the status quo with the Sugar Program are opening themselves up to more scrutiny than they’ve had in the past.”

The briefing included opening remarks by Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Penn.) and Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Penn.), with Shuster stating, “this briefing lays the groundwork for a needed discussion on the issue, and I will continue working with my colleagues to make reforms to the program." 

Speaking on the domestic impacts, the panel noted that the program cost American taxpayers nearly $300 million in 2013 alone, and the Congressional Budget Office projects it could cost taxpayers an additional $115 million over the next 10 years. It was also pointed out that the program has contributed to the loss of nearly 10,000 jobs annually in the U.S. food industry, and that for every one sugar-growing job saved by high U.S. sugar prices, approximately three U.S. manufacturing jobs are lost.

While most of the panel’s focus was on the domestic impacts of the sugar program, the discussion also expanded to issues the program causes for American trade negotiations. “This disrupts all of our efforts to get free trade and damages every American exporter and consumer not just in this zone, but because in order to do this stupid thing to our consumers we have to give way on other stuff that also does damage to our consumers and our producers,” Norquist stated. 

Looking ahead the panel noted that opportunities for reforming the program could soon come in an appropriations bill or during the budget process. 

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USPS Loses Billions for the 9th Consecutive Year

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Posted by Edwin Portugal on Wednesday, November 18th, 2015, 10:00 AM PERMALINK

Like many government agencies, the U.S. Postal Service is an expert at hemorrhaging money. Just last week, the USPS reported a $5.1 billion loss for fiscal year 2015, marking its 9th consecutive year of multi-billion dollar losses. Since 2007, the USPS has accumulated $56.8 billion in losses.

Although the Postal Service claims it does not receive taxpayer support, the fact is that USPS enjoys a variety of special privileges as a government agency. The USPS maintains a government protected monopoly over delivery to mailboxes. This gives the USPS a roughly $14.9 billion advantage in recent years over private competitors.

Additionally, the USPS is exempt from virtually all taxes and fees that its competitors must pay - it does not have to pay: state and local property and real estate taxes; sales and use taxes; state franchise taxes; license fees; title fees; and vehicle registration fees. The USPS is not even accountable for parking tickets and tolls. In all, these exemptions give the USPS an over $2 billion dollar edge over the free market.

Overall, the USPS enjoys a whopping $18 billion annually from government granted monopolies and indirect subsidies. Even with government-protected special privileges, the USPS has consecutively seen billions in losses for the past 9 years. If the Post Office were a private company it would have been bankrupt decades ago. 

As a government agency, however, the USPS machine continues to enjoy its monopoly status propped up by the federal government. The USPS aims to triumph over its private competitors by government aid, not by providing higher-quality service. 


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You guys really need to look at the big picture. This "opinion"piece is pure fantasy.


Really ought to downsize and start following the constitution ... oh wait.

ATR Launches Campaign to Defeat Tax Hikes in Pennsylvania

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Posted by Paul Blair on Wednesday, November 18th, 2015, 7:52 AM PERMALINK

Today, Americans for Tax Reform launched a campaign to defeat the pending budget “compromise” being negotiated between Governor Tom Wolf (D-Penn.) and the Republican-run state legislature. The first set of over 75,000 phone calls began going out this morning, asking constituents to contact their state legislators to tell them to stand strong against Gov. Wolf's efforts to raise taxes. 

In the fifth month of the budget impasse, a plan that includes a massive 21 percent sales tax hike is currently under consideration. This constitutes a $2 billion sales tax hike. Though it is offset with some property tax relief, the plan still remains a net tax hike and is likely to include new and higher taxes elsewhere.

"Gov. Tom Wolf's desire to spend and tax more without reforming government by doing common sense things like getting the government out of the booze business isn't a mainstream position. Given how long this budget impasse has gone on, it's time legislators start hearing more from their constituents," said ATR President Grover Norquist. "Tax reform shouldn't be used as a trojan horse for tax increases, as can be the case when one tax is lowered and others are raised and new ones are created. Republicans should stand strong against Tom Wolf's plan to raise the sales tax and they should continue to demand that Pennsylvania get out of the liquor business altogether." 

If you're a Pennsylvania resident, click here to send a letter to your legislator telling them to reject tax hikes. 

The first set of Republican lawmakers’ constituents who will receive phone calls urging them to oppose Wolf's tax hikes are as follows:

  • House Speaker Mike Turzai (HD-28)
  • Senator Dominic Pillegi (SD-9)
  • Senator Robert Tomlison (SD-6)
  • Senator Stewart Greenleaf (SD-12)
  • Senator Chuck McIlhinney (SD-10)


Suburban moderates in the Senate are the top target of this campaign.

A 30-second recorded call will be delivered to households with residents identified as likely Republican voters in each of these districts. Call recipients are asked to “Press 1” at the conclusion of the message to be directed to their representative’s capitol offices in Harrisburg.

Click here to listen to the message delivered to Speaker Turzai’s constituents. 

Messages vary by district, with some legislators being urged to reject the massive sales tax hike and others being asked to reject efforts to create a new and higher tax on electronic cigarettes, a tobacco-free alternative to combustible cigarettes.

"The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that there are 9 million adults who use electronic cigarettes in the United States. These are former smokers who are living healthier tobacco-free lives while the small businesses and shops who help them in this effort contribute to state property, sales, and income taxes. To kill these businesses with a new tax on vapor products would fly in the face of efforts to reduce smoking rates in Pennsylvania," continued Norquist. 

Tell legislators to reject e-cigarette tax hikes by sending them an email right now. 

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ATR Supports Legislation to Make CRS Reports Available to the Public

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Wednesday, November 18th, 2015, 6:00 AM PERMALINK

ATR President Grover Norquist today sent a letter to members of Congress urging support for H.Res.34, legislation introduced by Congressman Leonard Lance (R-N.J). This bill would create a publicly accessible database for Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports. 

Despite taxpayers spending $100 million per year on this research, they are not given easy access to CRS reports. Granting public access to these reports is a commonsense idea that will increase transparency, give taxpayers greater access to important information, and enrich public knowledge. 

The full letter is pasted below or can be found here. 

Dear Member of Congress:

I write to endorse Congressman Leonard Lance’s H.Res.34, a bill to allow public access to reports compiled by the Congressional Research Service (CRS).

Rep. Lance’s bipartisan bill creates a publicly accessible electronic database for CRS reports, similar to what is already available to those working in Congress. This is a common sense proposal that will increase transparency, give taxpayers greater access to important information, and enrich public knowledge.

Each year, experts at CRS complete 1,000 new reports and update 2,500 more. This service is invaluable to the thousands of Congressional staffers who have easy access to this resource.

For taxpayers, it is a different story. Despite providing $100 million in financing for CRS research each year, the public does not have easy access to these reports.        

CRS is an outlier when it comes to public access – other agencies like the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) already make their research freely available to the public.

Making these reports available is common sense. Copies of CRS reports are already widely found on the web and frequently sent to curious constituents, so there is no rationale to denying taxpayers easy access. 

I urge you to work to lift this outdated, unnecessary rule and allow CRS reports into the public domain by co-sponsoring and supporting this legislation.

To co-sponsor H.Res.34, please contact Michael Taggart at 202-225-5361 or at   


Grover G. Norquist

President, Americans for Tax Reform

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Grover Norquist Speech in New Orleans: The Vaping Movement Will Win!

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Posted by Paul Blair on Monday, November 16th, 2015, 5:47 PM PERMALINK

In a speech to vapor product business owners and consumers, ATR president Grover Norquist recently outlined his view on how vapers can defeat efforts to tax and regulate electronic cigarettes and vapor products.  New CDC data suggests that there are more than 9 million adult consumers of vapor products in the United States.

As Grover explains, the large number of consumers using these products to live healthier tobacco-free lives represents a political movement that politicians would be wise to recognize, especially as we head into the 2016 election cycle.

This event took place on November 8, 2015 at Mardi Gras World in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Vaper’s Exhibit helped organize this event. 

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Taxation Without Representation; The Collateral Damage of Crony Capitalism

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Posted by Katie McAuliffe on Monday, November 16th, 2015, 4:42 PM PERMALINK

For several years now, big box retailers have been pushing Congress to implement sales taxes on the interstate transactions that the Supreme Court has ruled off-limits baring legislation..  While these big box stores claim to be after “parity”, the end result would be punitive to small mom-and-pop retailers that are less well equipped to navigate the considerable red tape and audit threats from thousands of taxing jurisdictions around the country.

The irony is that the big box stores have wrapped themselves in the mantle of “main street” and neglect to mention that the real impetus for the federal institution of online sales taxes comes almost exclusively from the biggest retailers in the country.  Ten of the biggest ten retailers in the country are pressing for interstate sales tax legislation, and even eight of the top ten internet retailers are pushing for taxation.

The two main bills being pushed by the big box retailers this year are the Remote Transactions Parity Act (RPTA) and the Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA). In addition to the tax increases on consumers they both layer more regulatory burdens on small businesses and set a dangerous precedent for taxation without representation by extending collection duties and audit targets outside a state’s own borders.

Many state governors and their allies in the legislatures have made allies of the big box stores in their attempts to pass online sales tax.  In working to feed the monster of big government, the alliance of the retailers and government officials is making exactly the point Carly Fiorina was trying to get across on Wednesday night: Big government benefits the powerful and well-connected.

Don’t believe the claims of the tax-and-spend crowd at the state level when they claim citizens already owe the tax and they can’t collect it.  The truth is that as a practical matter almost no attempt is made to collect “use” taxes because they are deeply unpopular and most taxpayers don’t believe they owe them.  The taxing authorities want someone else to collect their taxes for them; hence the idea of forcing online retailers in other states to do their dirty work for them.


Then when the businesses in other states run afoul of one or more of the thousands of taxing jurisdictions they can look forward to countless audits and lawsuits, with no recourse to any elected official that needs their votes.  The online sales tax isn’t about “leveling the playing field” or giving states taxes they need and deserve; it’s about vastly expanding the powers of states beyond their borders.

Should either online sales tax bill become law, online retailers will be faced with over 10,000 complicated tax codes, including 45 state sales taxes and local tax jurisdictions. 


The costs of imposing these online sales tax proposals represent another big hit to small businesses.  While the bills provide for “free” software and installation, the cost of maintenance and upgrades would range in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.  These costs will have little effect on larger corporations, but it will certainly stifle smaller businesses.

These bills are vastly unpopular with voters across the spectrum.  According to polling conducted by the National Taxpayers Union and the RStreet Institute, 57 percent of respondents were opposed to an online sales tax.  Broken down by party affiliation 65 percent of Republicans, 56 percent of Independents, and 48 percent (to 43 percent) of Democrats were opposed.

In an attempt to force the tax through, legislators have actually held hostage a vote on The Internet Tax Freedom Forever Act.  This legislation would make the current Internet Tax Moratorium permanent, ending any possibility of states taxing Internet access, and ensure that there are no discriminatory taxes on e-commerce.  But the powerful interests have blocked the bill unless and until some kind of online sales tax is attached to it.

In the Republican debate, when Carly Fiorina reminded us that big government benefits the rich, powerful and well connected she made critical points.  When she said, “Government trying to level the playing field between Internet and brick and mortar causes a problem,”  she was right on target. 

Internet sales taxes are about the most powerful retailers in the country raising taxes on their competitors.  It’s that simple.

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Keith Yockey

Kennedy is just as much for Big Business as anybody, and his opinions on Quill are dead wrong.
Quill was about mailorder companies, and to date, no software vender has come up with a tax software program for them.

Jeanne Savelle

As both a brick and mortar store (35 years) and an on-line seller, I can tell you that the only reason our small Tool Store has stayed in business is because we have reached out to the internet. For the first time in 35 years, we have more small businesses closing than starting. Let's not add another casualty to that list. The MFA and RPTA are about the strong and well funded getting stronger and the small and under-represented getting crushed!

Keith Yockey

And I oppose MFAs $1M exemption. The fact is, the $$ lawmakers claim that is uncollected does not exist, or has already been collected. 90% of ecommerce is dominated by the bigbox.coms, and 70% of all Amazon sales collect Sales Tax now.
The legislation pushed by lobby $$ from WalMart, Amazon, The National Chamber of Commerce, and the group representing Shopping Malls is specifically designed to crush small business w related compliance costs.

Protecting Email Privacy Rights

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Posted by Eric Seum on Monday, November 16th, 2015, 3:59 PM PERMALINK

In an article from Iowa newspaper, The Gazette, Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist and Involta Founder and CEO Bruce Lehrman discuss email privacy rights, ECPA reform, and its opposition by the SEC and The FTC.

“The SEC and FTC oppose this urgently needed reform, and credit is due Senator Grassley for bringing representatives of both agencies before the committee to explain their position. The witnesses acknowledged their agencies believed they had under ECPA the authority to order warrantless searches. And they insisted that authority was essential to their ability to investigate ‘fraud and other unlawful conduct.’ And yet neither witness could provide an example when their agencies had used that authority to help solve a case. Not a single one. And this in a year the SEC claims has seen a record number of successful investigations.”

Read the full article here

Not too long ago, U.S. citizens could take comfort in the safety that the fourth amendment provides against unreasonable search and seizures. However, in an ever-growing technological age, our personal lives are becoming anything but private.

The fourth amendment protects citizens from invasive searches of our homes, offices, mail, and other effects without a search warrant and probable cause, yet some government officials feel these laws don’t apply when it comes to our internet presence. Due to a loophole in a long outdated law, some government agencies claim they don’t need a reason to dig through our online history, and their adamantly fighting to keep it that way.

The law in question is the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. The law was created to protect the privacy of emails from government intrusion for 180 days. That was 1986, nearly 30 years ago, when online communication was merely on the horizon, a technology unused by many. The law made sense at the time. There was email, most of which were read, printed out, and dragged to the trash bin, gone forever. No one could have guessed the role online communication would play in our lives today. It’s hard to even imagine how the world would function as it is without it. Much of our lives are out there in cyberspace. Our texts and tweets, our photos, finances, and all sorts of personal information can be found with a few clicks of the mouse. All this information is up for grabs by patiently waiting government agencies.

The fact is, the majority of Americans cannot or do not get rid of all their online interactions as the 180 day limit approaches. There is simply too much important information to get rid of and restore every six months. Yet the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) maintain opposition to any sort of reform that would correct this flaw in the system.Luckily, Congress has taken notice of this antiquated and broken law.

 “The truth is that no agency of the government needs to ignore Fourth Amendment protections to investigate and prosecute lawbreaking. They never have and they never will. The ECPA reforms pending in Congress ensure that government can enforce its laws and regulations without violating the privacy of law-abiding citizens. There is as close to a political consensus in support of ECPA reform as is possible in this era of gridlock and polarization. Most Americans agree their email ought to have the same assurance of privacy as their phone conversations. So do most members of Congress. The candidates for President should make clear they do, too. Legislation is pending, hearings have been held, and the opposition exposed as unnecessary and unfair. It’s time for Congress to stop executive branch opportunists from blocking this consensus and expanding their powers at the expense of the Iowans’ liberties.”

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Top Five Reasons to End U.S. Sugar Subsidies

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Monday, November 16th, 2015, 12:58 PM PERMALINK

The current U.S. Sugar Program was introduced in 1934 with the goal of lowering sugar production and raising sugar prices. Unfortunately for American consumers, businesses, and taxpayers, the sugar program has achieved its intended goal all too well. 

The result has been a system of protectionist policies that solely benefit the sugar industry at the expense of American consumers and taxpayers. Since 1934, the U.S. Sugar Program has evolved into a thicket of government imposed price supports, import quotas, and tariffs that keep domestic sugar prices artificially high.

These sweetheart deals for “Big Sugar” are costing taxpayers and consumers billions, while impacting the economy and fostering a climate of crony capitalism that rivals that of the Ex-Im Bank. The time has come for lawmakers to reexamine what is actually being accomplished by this corporate welfare scheme. Below are five reasons the sugar program is quite literally all cost and no benefit for Americans. 

1. The sugar program has cost taxpayers billions. For American taxpayers, the sugar program has led to billions of their hard earned dollars being wasted propping up the sugar industry. Estimates show that from 2000-2001 the sugar program cost taxpayers almost half a billion dollars. In 2013 nearly $300 million was charged to taxpayers by the program, and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects the program will cost taxpayers an additional $115 million over the next 10 years. 

2. Consumers pay the price for sugar subsidies. As a result of the sugar program, the average wholesale price of domestically produced sugar in the U.S. is more than twice the average world price of sugar, an average of 14.87 cents higher per pound. For instance in August of 2015 the U.S. sugar price of 33.13 cents per pound was more than double that of the world price of 15.57 cents. This means that American consumers are not only footing the bill for these government backed handouts to big sugar, but are being made to pay higher prices for sugar and related goods as a result.  

3. Sugar subsidies are crony capitalism at its worst. Much like the beleaguered Ex-Im Bank, the U.S. sugar program is the antithesis of free-market policy. The program instead represents the worst of corporate welfare and cronyism that so often plagues D.C. politics. Through the use of price supports, import quotas and tariffs, the sugar program destroys competition in the market, protecting the politically connected sugar industry at the expense of hard working Americans. 

4. The sugar program is destroying thousands of U.S. jobs annually. Protectionist policies under the U.S. sugar program have led to artificially high prices for domestic sugar, creating incentives for manufacturers to import certain sugar products or to relocate their operations outside of the U.S. As a result, the sugar program has led to a loss of nearly 10,000 jobs annually in the U.S. food industry. The Department of Commerce (DOC) estimates that for every sugar-growing job saved through high U.S. sugar prices, approximately three manufacturing jobs are lost. 

5. Sugar handouts distort the market and harm domestic businesses. The current U.S. sugar program uses protectionist policies to prop up the sugar producing industry, insulating producers from market forces and most importantly competition. While artificially high prices and restricted competition is good for sugar producers, domestic sugar-using manufacturers alternatively are competing globally but paying for domestic sugar at a rate twice that of the global price, putting them at a severe disadvantage.  

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Inversions Are a Symptom of a Failing Tax Code

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Monday, November 16th, 2015, 9:22 AM PERMALINK

Once again, a possible corporate inversion is making headlines and once again, the Obama administration has proven it does not understand the real reason inversions occur.

In response to news that pharmaceutical firms Pfizer and Allergan are in merger discussions, the Obama Treasury department has suggested it would do its utmost to block the deal.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, Treasury is determined to take action against inversions using a “broad range of options,” including imposing heavy penalties and burdensome new rules on businesses.

While new regulations will make life difficult for companies looking to merge, it will ultimately not solve the problem. Indeed, Treasury’s comments demonstrate an unwillingness to understand and address the root cause behind inversions.

In effect, inversions occur when a US company merges with a foreign company. The new company then bases its headquarters in the foreign country. These type of mergers occur for two reasons.

First, the U.S. has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the developed world. Including state income taxes, the business tax rate is nearly 40 percent for corporations and approaching 50 percent for flow-through firms. By comparison, the UK’s rate is 20 percent, and Germany and Canada’s rate is just 15 percent.

Lowering the business rate to under 25 percent, the average rate among developed countries, would put US business on a more even playing field. All of a sudden, companies would have less rationale to invert because they are now subject to a fairer marginal tax rate.

Second, the U.S. double taxes income earned abroad. Most of the world has a territorial tax system. They tax money earned in their country but welcome the return of money earned abroad tax-free. This makes sense because this money is already taxed in the country where it was earned.

The US is among a handful of countries that does things differently. We have a worldwide tax system, which means that if you are an American business, the IRS tries to tax everything you earn regardless of where you earn it. Incidentally, every other country that has a worldwide tax system has lower rates than the US.

Moving to a worldwide system of taxation will mean the IRS no longer goes after every penny US companies earn, and will remove a key reason that companies look to inversions.

The issue of double taxation has been raised during past inversions. Critics of the Burger King – Tim Horton inversion last year complained that this merger would mean that Burger King would no longer be paying its “fair share.”

What this really meant was that Burger King would no longer be subject to double-taxation on income it had earned abroad, and already paid taxes on in the country of origin.

If the “pay your fair share” crowd were really serious about addressing this issue, they would recognize that the tax burden the US subjects business to far exceeds that of other developed countries in both scope and complexity.

The fact is, inversions occur because of a US tax code that is fundamentally more onerous and complex than the tax codes in other developed countries. Until the administration gets serious about addressing the real problem, inversions will continue to happen, regardless of any new regulations treasury imposes.

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