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Medtronic buys Irish company, gets much lower tax bill

Apparently, fleeing to South Dakota was not an option. Michael J. De La Merced of the New York Times reports, “Medtronic agreed on Sunday to buy Covidien for $42.9 billion, combining two of the world’s biggest medical device makers and helping it gain access to cash held overseas. The deal, which is being structured as a so-called inversion, will relocate Medtronic from its headquarters in Minneapolis to Covidien’s corporate home in Ireland, where the tax rate is significantly lower than in the United States.”

The Reuters story says, “The Minneapolis-based company said the move was not driven by tax considerations, pointing instead to medical technology synergies with Covidien. … Medtronic said it would keep its operational headquarters in Minneapolis and pledged $10 billion in U.S. technology investments over the next 10 years. … Democrats in Congress have called for new restrictions on these deals. …”

In the Strib, Mark Brunswick and Joy Powell write, “Medtronic told the governor it intends to create more than 1,000 new medical technology-related jobs in Minnesota during the next five years … .” and that “the Medtronic-Covidien deal will make the combined company a ‘cash machine,’ with an estimated $7 billion in free cash flow annually … .”

Speaking of dodging taxes … . Stribber Paul Walsh tells of an Anoka woman invoking her proximity to a higher authority. “A Twin Cities woman has pleaded guilty to dodging income taxes for many years in connection with her family excavation and sewage-treatment business, when she claimed she and her husband were not U.S. citizens but permanent residents of the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’. … The plea agreement noted that the tax revenue lost for years 2003 through 2007 topped $530,000.”  

Looking at primary fights in both of the main parties, Baird Helgeson of the Strib says, “Political parties are under increasing urgency to maintain their relevance in an era where money is moving to outside interest groups and candidates can find paths to victory that don’t always go through the establishment. … An August defeat of the GOP’s endorsed gubernatorial candidate would be another setback for a party still digging out from a mountain of debt and attempting to reimpose a measure of party discipline.”

The State will pick up the $13.5 million tab for ACT testing of all middle- and high-school kids. Says Christopher Magan of the PiPress: “The ACT-developed tests come after the 2013 Legislature approved a measure requiring districts to make sure students are prepared for higher education or the workforce before leaving high school. The new test will replace exams students had to pass before graduation that were eliminated. The exams are in addition to the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments, or MCAs, that students in third through 10th grade take each year to measure proficiency in English, math and science as required by federal law.”

The GleanBut I keep hearing that stimulus thing was a complete waste … . Shannon Prather of the Strib says, “Minneapolis, St. Paul and Brooklyn Park have spent nearly $70 million in federal stimulus money to remodel, sell or demolish more than 1,000 distressed homes and rental properties in the wake of the housing bust and foreclosure crisis that gripped many neighborhoods during the Great Recession. The once-in-a-generation pot of money has yielded some dramatic results.”

Why would anyone think it’d be cheap? At MPR, Peter Cox files a story about fans upset at the prices of All-Star Game activities. “On her way into a Twins game earlier this month, Tammy Sly of Minneapolis said she’s not ready to shell out hundreds of dollars. ‘It’s not fair, it should be for the fans,’ she said. ‘We paid for this stadium as taxpayers and we should get to go to the game.’ According to a letter sent to Twins season ticket holders, the package of the game plus events started at around $400 and went as high as $1,400.”

Maybe it’s a question of what the meaning of the word “take” is … ? Catharine Richert at MPR’s fact-checking desk writes, “Marty Seifert has issued a challenge to Gov. Mark Dayton: refuse campaign contributions from lobbyists. Seifert says he’s never taken lobbyist contributions and wants Dayton, whom Seifert hopes to unseat this fall, to do the same. … Seifert has taken contributions from at least two lawyers who work for the well known lobbying and legal firm Lockridge Grindal Nauen: Charlie Nauen and Joseph Bruckner each gave Seifert $200 in 2004. Additionally, Seifert has taken large sums of money from interest group, corporate and lobbying firm political action committees.” But then he probably doesn’t want to challenge Dayton to a self-funded campaign.

Comments (11)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 06/16/2014 - 08:27 am.


    Yet another in the endless list of illustrations that corporations are amoral. An annual $7 billion in “free cash flow” reveals Medtronic’s whining (and lobbying) against the minimal medical device tax to be the self-serving shell game that it is.

    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 06/16/2014 - 11:54 am.

      This is Medtronic’s way of thanking….

      …Eric Paulsen and our MN Senators for their efforts to boost their profits: move the money out of state. Nice.

  2. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 06/16/2014 - 08:40 am.


    It’s probably pretty bad policy to base corporate tax liability on where the CEO claims to live or get his mail. When tax reformers sift through the internal revenue code for really stupid ideas, they should probably take a look at that one.

  3. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 06/16/2014 - 09:37 am.

    Ireland’s corporate tax rate is 12.5%

    It’s three-times that in the U.S.

    Medtronic has a fiduciary responsibility to its shareholders, employees and customers to reduce costs wherever possible to maintain their profitability, to keep their employees employed and their products affordable.

    It’s understandable that those who’ve never worked for a capitalist organization don’t appreciate that and only see an individual or a private enterprise as a source of funding for the collective. But that’s the way it works in a free society.

    • Submitted by Jackson Cage on 06/16/2014 - 01:22 pm.

      Apparently, you don’t understand it either

      There is no fiduciary obligation owed to employees or customers. The only obligation is to shareholders. So, other than that huge mistake, thanks for the free society, capitalist knowledge.

      • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 06/16/2014 - 02:06 pm.

        It’s interesting

        that you believe a company has no obligations to their employees or customers. I would bet you don’t do much business.

        • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 06/16/2014 - 02:53 pm.

          He said FIDUCIARY obligations,…

          …not obligations in general. Your point is true in the general sense, yet not so much in the sense of “fiduciary” obligations.

          To cast a little light on this, here is a dictionary definition of the adjective “fiduciary”: “involving trust, especially with regard to the relationship between a trustee and a beneficiary.”

          It seems that our corporations adhere to this kind of relationship only with respect to their shareholders.

          But when it comes to looking out for the best interests of employees and customers, as “fiduciary” implies, some of our corporations do, and some don’t. In other words, it’s elective.

          Some may have a vague claim and generalized desire to support their customers’ best interests, but in truth, care so little that they drop the ball. A fine recent example would be Target’s failure to protect its customers’ key financial and personal data.

          Insofar as Medtronic is concerned, keeping prices “affordable” is a marketing matter, not a matter of trust and fiduciary duty.

    • Submitted by Harris Goldstein on 06/16/2014 - 05:11 pm.

      No it’s not

      You continue to compare against the US 39% corporate tax rate. But virtually no corporation pays that. Medtronic’s current tax rate, prior to this deal, is about 18-19%. Medtronic, like many companies, want the benefits (such as an educated work force, stable infrastructure, etc) this country provides without contributing their fair share.

  4. Submitted by Howard Salute on 06/16/2014 - 12:07 pm.


    It amazes me that corporations are vilified when they speak out and try to express the reality that US corporate tax rates tax are too high and thus not competitive world wide. So, when these warnings are ignored, there should be no surprise that businesses arrange their affairs to remain competitive world wide. As Supreme Court Justice Learned Hand taught us:

    “Anyone may arrange his affairs so that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which best pays the treasury. There is not even a patriotic duty to increase one’s taxes. Over and over again the Courts have said that there is nothing sinister
    in so arranging affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible. Everyone does it, rich and poor alike and all do right, for nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands.”

  5. Submitted by Jay Willemssen on 06/16/2014 - 12:22 pm.

    Government share of GDP, Ireland v US, 2012

    Ireland: 18%
    US: 16%

  6. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 06/16/2014 - 05:38 pm.

    Business Promises of Jobs at the time of a Merger

    Aren’t worth the value of the air it takes to speak the words,…

    for example: Promises made by Northwest airlines at the time of its “merger of equals” with Delta.

    The most glaring responsibility today’s business leaders lack is one we all learned as small children,…

    the basic responsibility to tell the truth as best we know it.

    America’s business/chamber of commerce leaders shed that responsibility way back when they lied their way into the Reagan tax cuts. They’ve never looked back.

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