Michelangelo Signorile: Burger King’s ‘Proud Burger’ Is A Tax Evasion Cover-Up

According to Michelangelo Signorile, political donors and other entities are courting LGBT people in order to cover up criticism of unethical and questionable actions.

Proud

Writing on The Huffington Post, Michelangelo Signorile argues that companies, political donors and other entities are courting LGBT people in order to cover up criticism of unethical and questionable actions.

Signorile points out that corporate support for LGBT rights is easier for companies than it has been in the past and that many of these organizations need the support of LGBT people.

Arguing that Burger King’s recent actions hurt the economy and workers, he says that the Proud Whopper is an attempt to allow the company to remove attention from the fact that it is “fleeing to Canada, buying up Tim Hortons, following other American companies engaged in so-called tax inversions, all to avoid paying U.S. taxes."

SignorileSignorile continues that although Republican megadonor Paul Singer has given money to LGBT groups and GOP politicians who already support LGBT rights, the hedge fund billionaire is also giving millions to anti-gay candidates via right-wing groups and super PACs.

He goes on to points out that Democrats are as much to blame as Republicans, noting that although Governor Andrew Cuomo supported marriage equality in New York, his recent actions, including budget cuts, have diminished the rights of all workers, be they gay or straight.

Getting straight to the point, Signorile concludes:

“The fact that Burger King so publicly supports LGBT rights shouldn't matter. We should be past the point of being giddy over a nice wrapper. Corporations that dodge paying U.S. taxes while making billions from American consumers are wreaking havoc. We should all be sending a message to the fast-food giant that it is hurting America — gay America, straight America, all of America.”

Comments

  1. Truther says

    They’ve found horse meat in the burgers all over Europe. Canada has a huge horse slaughter industry. Over 100,0000 American horses alone are shipped there and to Mexico each year. They just want to be near the beef substitute you don’t know you are being feed.

  2. crispy says

    Oh please.

    Burger King sold the Proud Whopper in 1 store for all of a week. It was not widely available by any means.

    He may be right about Burger King and other American corporations dodging U.S. taxes, but that’s a big ol’ combo-sized reach to tie that to their LGBT support.

    The truth is that LGBT support, like tax dodging, is simply better for the bottom line. And that’s all companies care about. It’s really not that big of a mystery.

  3. MaryM says

    I”ve been saying this for years.

    It is nothing to celebrate that corporations support LGB causes. These are PR moves. They don’t care about LGB people – they court us for money and no other reason.

    The moment it becomes convenient to discriminate they will do so.

  4. says

    I’m sure that after Burger King moves, they will stop paying payroll taxes on all the employees in America, right? Payroll taxes are the largest tax burden on any corporation – its one of the things that makes having employees so expensive. As all of the counter help at BK are not contractors, I imagine that BK will still have quite a heft US tax bill every year no matter where their corporate offices are.

  5. says

    Michelangelo’s reasoning is a bit of a stretch.

    That said, I would never eat at Burger King as their food made me horribly ill on two occasions. I have no desire to tempt a third.

  6. Paul B. says

    Tax “loopholes” or whatever you want to call them are there for all of us that want to take advantage of them…be they in country or out…corporate or private citizen.
    Mr. S probably spent more money on his amazing fake teeth than most of us spend on a house in this country. Did he write that off? You bet.

  7. Paul B. says

    Tax “loopholes” or whatever you want to call them are there for all of us that want to take advantage of them…be they in country or out…corporate or private citizen.
    Mr. S probably spent more money on his amazing fake teeth than most of us spend on a house in this country. Did he write that off? You bet.

  8. Nat says

    “Michelangelo Signorile: Burger King’s ‘Proud Burger’ Is A Tax Evasion Cover-Up”

    No, it is not.

    Tax evasion is illegal. Tax avoidance – through inversion – is perfectly legal. I do not expect Towleroad to go into the intricacies of tax law, but you cannot state blatantly incorrect fact.

  9. Paul B. says

    @Nat…thank you for clearing up the fine points. It seems that Mr. S is letting his “nuance” go the way of George Bush…but not his oral hygiene.

  10. says

    YUP – remember how Trump couldn’t shut up about how awful and dangerous China was/is? Yet – his clothing line is made there. But he’s a REAL AMERICAN PATRIOT, right?

    Obama is right – legal or not, its’ unethical and it’s not patriotic. At all. It’s saying “to achieve the american dream and maximize my profits i exercise my right to actually sorta screw over the country i claim to love most”

    well, sure. just be honest about it.

    Now, i don’t think the “proud burger” is specifically a “cover-up” – per se – but the stench of utterly-selfish capitalism is all over this. they’re screwing america, just like GM and countless other major corporations.

  11. MaryM says

    If Burger King is a human being (and in the US it is regarded as such) then it should be subject to the EXACT same rate of tax as its counterstaff.

    Capitalism really is despicable. The US has become this appalling undemocratic oligarchy.

  12. Island Planet says

    I don’t get it. Isn’t Burger King simply saying that they don’t want to pay (very high) corporate taxes on $$ earned overseas? They will continue to employ thousands in the US and pay taxes on $$ earned in the US.

  13. Chris says

    To be accurate, the Brazil based hedge fund which owns Burger King is buying Canadian based Tim Hortons and merging the managements of the 2 companies. That left a choice of which head office to close and a 9% difference in tax rate made the choice easy. It’s probably just a bonus that health care costs for head office staff are cheaper in Canada as well.

  14. Paul B. says

    Please…unpatriotic…unethical. Let’s get real here.”Legality” is the only issue that they care about…and even that’s subject to cost/benefit analysis. Is it right? Do you imagine for one minute they pay their lawyers to study “ethics”? If it’s legal, they do it. The tax code is our problem…ethics is irrelevant to corporate’s legal team.

  15. david from Edmonton says

    He is an idiot. BK’s corporate offices will remain in Florida. Tim Horton’s corporate offices will remain in Missasauga Ontario. BK GLOBAL HQ will be located in Canada – somewhere – and NOT at Tim Horton’s HQ. BK will continue to operate it’s stores in the US and in Canada and pay taxes in both locations. He really should look at the deal before he spouts off his mouth about something he doesn’t know anything about. Another example of rabid American Patriotism. It’s ok to take over a Canadian company and move the business south but GOD FORBID it happens in the other direction then you would thik the end of the world has happened. Maybe a little business intelligence might do him some good.

  16. JackFknTwist says

    To avoid tax they go to a low tax regime.
    They are not ‘evading’ they are ‘avoiding’ paying the higher rate of the Fatherland, eh…… I mean the Homeland.

    Why is that earth shattering ?
    Tax lawyers would advise such a move in the interests of the company and shareholders.

    For ‘patriotism’ etc. you can all still fly those endless flags.
    Now, flag manufacturing , that’s a big business. and where are they made ?

  17. david from Edmonton says

    And by the way it isn’t a done deal until the Canadian Government approves the merger. they have stopped other mergers that were not int he country’s best interests. It is interesting when Sobey’s (a Canadian food chain) bought all the Safeway Food Stores from the US company and made them Canadian stores, no longer affiliated with or funneling profits into US based Safeway. As I sad maybe a little busines intelligence is neded. Business is business and the US doesn’t have a monopoly on company ownership. Also Warren Buffett is into the 11 billion dollar deal for 3 billion so where is that comment in all the rhetoric Singnorile?

  18. david from Edmonton says

    And by the way it isn’t a done deal until the Canadian Government approves the merger. they have stopped other mergers that were not int he country’s best interests. It is interesting when Sobey’s (a Canadian food chain) bought all the Safeway Food Stores from the US company and made them Canadian stores, no longer affiliated with or funneling profits into US based Safeway, no one made a big deal about it. Safeway was one of the largest food store chains in Western Canada. As I sad maybe a little busines intelligence is neded. Business is business and the US doesn’t have a monopoly on company ownership. Also Warren Buffett is into the 11 billion dollar deal for 3 billion so where is that comment in all the rhetoric Singnorile?

  19. Nat says

    Obama is right – legal or not, its’ unethical and it’s not patriotic. At all. It’s saying “to achieve the american dream and maximize my profits i exercise my right to actually sorta screw over the country i claim to love most”

    No one is ethically obliged to pay a higher tax rate. We should adopt strategies to lower our tax burdens.

    Additionally, tying patriotism – already a detestable concept – in with giving the government more money is absurd.

  20. Joe says

    What is “wreaking havoc” on our country and economy is our tax system. The United States was able to attract capital from around the world by allowing people to be free to reap the rewards of the risk they take. Unfortunately, we are becoming more and more hostile to risk takers in America. If Congress wants to end “inversion” while attracting capital and incentive risk taking in order to get our economy going again they could start by abolishing the corporate income tax.

  21. gr8guya says

    That Burger King is practicing tax avoidance and that they created the Proud Whopper are wholly separate subjects. Having worked in corporate PR, the decision to run a Proud Whopper event was decided by the people who work in the PR and marketing departments. The decision to merge with Tim Horton was made by the corporate finance department and, more specifically, the CFO.

    The Proud Whopper was just one of the hundreds of marketing programs that Burger King runs. They do school events, arts events, and many others. While the Proud Whopper was most visible to our community, it was a tiny event for a corporation of this size.

    The move to merge with Tim Horton was an elephantine decision. The decision to create the Proud Whopper was ant-like by comparison.

  22. Will says

    Does Signorile realize that Burger King is a private company owned by Brazilian investors (so not really an “American” company anyways) and even if the company’s headquarter moves to Canada they will still pay corporate taxes on 100% of the money they earn in America?

    By moving their headquarter to Canada Burger King will be able to take money earned in other countries and actually reinvest it in America. Right now, overseas earnings are penalized if they are brought back to America.

    Also, why isn’t Signorile attacking Google or Apple? While they are headquartered in American they having many different holding companies oversees to prevent their out of country profits from falling under American corporate tax rates. The real downside is that Apple, for example, has over 50 billion dollars oversees that it can’t bring back into American without paying a 35% tax rate. So instead Apple invests that money into its overseas operations and acquisitions.

    The real losers of an uncompetitive tax rate in a global/digital economy are the citizens. If you want more jobs then lower corporate tax rates to zero and tax the profits once they are distributed to actual people at normal income rates. Corporate tax rates are a farce, the tax is just passed on to consumers in the form of more expensive goods anyways

  23. Vint says

    If Signorile wants to keep corporations and corporate dollars in the U.S., he should editorialize in support of a lower corporate tax rate – one more in line with the rest of the world. If that is his object, rather than punishment of the successful.

    The colorful wrapper has nothing to do with it. Consider it a red, orange, yellow, green, blue and indigo herring.

  24. kipp says

    @Little Kiwi (sigh, or who ever may have impersonated Little Kiwi),

    Burger King is not being unethical. If anything, in fact, it’s the US government who has questionable tax policy in this case. The US is one of the few countries that taxes the foreign based earnings of its companies. This means that if the new BurgerHortons kept its headquarters in the US, it would suddenly owe (in principle) 35% of its *Canadian* revenues in taxes to the government. Hardly any other developed-world countries do this.

    And the convoluted case Signorile makes to justify some kind of LGBT-based moral opprobrium for a mundane piece of international commerce makes me wonder how he ever get anything done – tainted as he and the world around him are with tenuous connections to people and companies who try to minimize their tax bills…

  25. says

    God forbid a company do what is best for it’s financial well being. He is being a blowhard calling it tax evasion. What BK is doing is completely legal. Good for BK for thinking about what it is created for: MAKING MONEY and NOT being a place for governments to squeeze out as much money as they can.

  26. JohnAGJ says

    So rather than examine why it is that Canada (?!?) has a lower corporate tax rate than we do, we should engage in a bit of jingoism instead? They somehow seem to have “socialized” medicine and quite a number of programs, yet still charge businesses less than we do. Apparently waving the flag is something that Republicans don’t have a monopoly on and it’s quite a convenient tactic for both parties.

  27. james street james says

    I hope not a single Republican has raised his voice to protest this because if he has he should remember to ask himself, What would Romney do?

    The Romney’s excel at tax avoidance and nearly half the voters applauded him for it.

    What a total non-issue, what a completely non-gay issue.

    And to top it all off the actual tax effects are unclear. Buffet will in all probability repatriate some income from this deal and pay taxes on that.

  28. david from Edmonton says

    And again I repeat BK headquarters STAYS in Florida, they are not moving thier headquarters anywhere. They have created a new company that will be headquartered in Canada – A NEW COMPANY. Business has nothing to do with partiotism it has to do with making money for ther owners and shareholders. To tie this to being unpatriotic is downright ridiculous. It is business and thats all iot is. Making money. Do you think Warren Buffett would be in for 3 billion if there were no profits involved in the merger – I think not. Business is business.

  29. WeHo says

    President Barack Obama says U.S. corporations that adopt foreign addresses to avoid taxes are unpatriotic. His own administration helped one $20 billion American company do just that.

    As part of the bailout of the auto industry in 2009, Obama’s Treasury Department authorized spending $1.7 billion of government funds to get a bankrupt Michigan parts-maker back on its feet — as a British company.

  30. vwdavy says

    A proud whopper, indeed. Their “food” is poison, and their corporate politics reflects that fact. Good riddance. Just sorry that so many people depend on such a gutless company for a living. Even more disappointed in our gutless politics that encourage this kind of behaviour. Ridiculous.

  31. Philie says

    I can tell you one thing is guaranteed in Canada, and one thing only: You will pay taxes.

    Evasion is so minimal when compared to the US, and you can thank the Liberal Party for that and its past indecent snafus.

    This being said, I believe Towleroad had showed time and again how us Canuckians, and by a very large margin, are proude of our LGBT support. Same-sex couples have been getting married for almost 20 years now, and have been adopting for almost a decade.

    Imagine how proud that one-week Whopper could become if it were made in Canuckia. heck, it might become a year-long happy bun.

    And really, horsemeat?! Wasn’t McDonald’s fined not long ago in Canada for wrongly selling it’s porky patties for 100% beef?

  32. Markt says

    I am impressed by the number of people on this blog that actually know how taxes work. Very impressive and gratifying. Too bad Signorile didn’t ask a gay friend who actually knew how it works before adding he wrote his editorial.

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