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Applied Materials

Corporate Cash Kings Escape U.S. Taxes

Walgreen (NYSE:WAG) isn't the only company under pressure, including by shareholders such as Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), to move its headquarters overseas due to high U.S. taxation.A number of other companies, about 15 since 1999, have also pulled up U.S. stakes, including the insurer Aon (NYSE:AON), Weatherford International (NYSE:WFT) and Actavis (NYSE:ACT) (for more names, see below). Walgreen's $16 billion buyout of Swiss-based Alliance Boots has put its lofty 37.5% corporate U.S. tax rate in the spotlight, versus the 20% rate now paid by Boots in Europe.The trends are clear. As companies hoard cash due to economic uncertainty, taxes or regulation, their management is scrambling away from high U.S. taxes, as shareholder activists also bear down on them. The implications are also clear; tax corporations at ever higher rates and they'll either spend shareholder capital to lower their effective rates with a lobbying army in D.C., raise prices, or move overseas, one of the most ineffectiv...

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