Fight or Flight of U.S.-Based Multinational Businesses: Analyzing the Causes for, Effects of, and Solutions to the Corporate Inversion Trend

Sheppard, Hale E. | January 1, 2003

When a person is confronted by a threat, he or she experiences a psychological and physiological response commonly known as “fight or flight.” In general, this innate survival mechanism causes the body to direct blood to vital areas and to release lactic acid, adrenaline and other chemicals in order to prepare a person to either face the threat or flee immediately. Multinational corporations based in the United States, likewise, have recently displayed similar fight-or-flight behavior when faced with the threat of high taxes. Unfortunately for the U.S. economy, a growing number of these American corporations have chosen the latter: flight. Frustrated with the perceived complexity and scope of the current U.S. international tax rules, as well as the competitive disadvantage at which these rules supposedly place U.S. businesses operating in the global market, several multinational corporate groups based in the United States have recently restructured themselves in such a way that the parent corporation is relocated to a low-tax or no-tax country such as Bermuda. These so-called “inversions” result in considerable tax savings for the corporate group involved, but arguably do so at the expense of the United States as a whole.