Governor candidates assess overseas tax breaks

Posted Online: July 31, 2014, 8:26 am
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CHICAGO (AP) The practice of U.S. corporations reorganizing with foreign entities overseas to reduce taxes back home has emerged as an issue in Illinois' gubernatorial race, with Gov. Pat Quinn strongly condemning the growing trend as 'unpatriotic' on Wednesday and questioning his Republican challenger's stance on the issue.

Quinn, a Chicago Democrat, remains locked in one of the most competitive governors' races nationwide with a challenge from Bruce Rauner. The venture capitalist says Illinois and the U.S. need to do more to compete for business, but his campaign wouldn't say Wednesday if he supported or rejected the practice of companies reorganizing abroad.

Still, Quinn blasted Rauner Wednesday, a day after Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin warned Illinois-based Walgreen Co. of consequences for reorganizing abroad.

'For anybody running for public office in Illinois to endorse that kind of bad behavior, loopholes that are really taking advantage of the American taxpayer ... we really have to say that candidate is way wrong, way off base,' Quinn told reporters in Chicago. 'A corporation renouncing its American citizenship to stash money overseas to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, that shifts the burden onto ... everyday people who play by the rules.'

Rauner wants a 'comprehensive solution' eliminating abuse of the tax code, according to Rauner campaign spokesman Mike Schrimpf.

'America needs to compete; Illinois needs to compete. The right answer is not to create walls, to block companies and people,' Rauner told Chicago's WMAQ-TV this week. '...We should be about freedom, choice and competition.'

Nationally, the Obama administration has urged Congress to limit the process called an inversion. On Wednesday, Republican U.S. senators blocked a bill limiting tax breaks, calling it an election-year stunt.

Much attention has been focused on Walgreen Co., the country's largest drugstore chain. The Deerfield-based company has been considering its option to complete a takeover of Swiss health and beauty retailer Alliance Boots, a move that could involve an overseas reincorporation. In 2012, Walgreen acquired an initial 45 percent stake in Alliance Boots, which runs the largest drugstore chain in the United Kingdom.

Durbin urged Walgreen on Tuesday not to reorganize in Switzerland, saying U.S. customers wouldn't support it. The issue of companies leaving Illinois has been sensitive as some top corporations have threatened to leave and then received controversial tax incentive packages approved by state lawmakers to stay.

Walgreen spokesman Michael Polzin said a decision was expected soon.

'We will do what is in the best long-term interest of our customers, our employees and our shareholders,' he said.


Local events heading

  Today is Wednesday, Oct. 1, the 274th day of 2014. There are 91 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: It is rumored in the streets that the 13 negroes sent to Quincy on the Moline quota were refused. We think this must be a mistake.
1889 -- 125 years ago: Harvey McKenna, of Detroit, billiard player matched to play Wizard Schafer in New York in January for the world championship, was a professional friend and manager, Billy Catton in Rock Island.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Levi Cralle, former Rock Island county sheriff, had come from his farm near Mitchell, S.D. to visit friends in the city.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Work is being rushed on the new high school building in Orion to replace the one destroyed by fire last winter. Classes are being held in churches.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Rehearsals for the 84th season of the Handel Oratorio Society chorus will begin at 7:30 p.m. Monday on the stage of Centennial Hall, Augustana College.
1989 -- 25 years ago: The Rock Island City Council's plan announced this week to have the federal government vacate Valley Homes public housing and move residents to Arsenal Courts to reduce density may not be feasible.

(More History)