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Ballmer Threatens To Pull Out of the US

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the tax-schmax dept.

Microsoft 1142

theodp writes "Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is threatening to move Microsoft employees offshore if Congress enacts President Obama's plans to curb tax avoidance by US corporations. 'It makes US jobs more expensive,' complained billionaire Ballmer. 'We're better off taking lots of people and moving them out of the US as opposed to keeping them inside the US.' According to 2006 reports, Microsoft transferred $16 billion in assets to secretive Dublin subsidiaries to shave billions off its US tax bill. 'Corporate tax is part of the overall advantage of doing business in Ireland,' acknowledged Ballmer in 2005. 'It would be disingenuous to say otherwise.'"

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1142 comments

frsot psis (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28232199)

aet it btiches

In other words (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28232209)

corporations corporations corporations corporations corporations corporations corporations corporations corporations...

this line added for postercomment compression filter

And I'm threatening.. (5, Funny)

NervousNerd (1190935) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232211)

And I'm threatening to move to Linux.

Capitalist flight (1, Flamebait)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232561)

Capitalist flight is good for the POOR! Capitalist flight from California means other poor states and some countries will have jobs while California rots. We've seen several either move to other states or other countries. Capitalist flight from the US means more poor foreigners will have jobs while the US rots. Driving out businesses with confiscatory taxes is a good thing as it will teach US not to do that or we get to smell the rotting poorer. I suppose we can warehouse them again but I hope that the architecture won't be so vile.

I moved wholly to a Linux based operating system. Granted that has not been all sweetness and light with the current de-feature- it meme but it's been stable and I can watch movies mostly. No games though. I'd have to buy Win7 for games or actually go out somewhere and play a board or card game.

.

Sure, move out. (4, Insightful)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232217)

If they go out of US, to who M$ will complain to prevent unlicensed use of Windows?

EU is much more user oriented then US.

Re:Sure, move out. (4, Insightful)

jbolden (176878) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232235)

Exactly what I was going to say. Move your main operation to Ireland and the EU has much much more control over windows. Microsoft is having huge problems with the EU because, well they are actually interested in the public good.

Re:Sure, move out. (5, Insightful)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232293)

And Dublin, what an excellent idea... just because they used to have good tax breaks for large relocating corporations doesn't mean that will continue. Not when the IMF steps in and tells them how to run their economy after their debts destroy it; even Dell has pulled out of Ireland and is moving from Limerick to Poland.

Perhaps if MS was under the jurisdiction of the EU, they'll do what the DoJ should have done and will break it up into several MiniSofts.

Re:Sure, move out. (4, Interesting)

dov_0 (1438253) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232541)

Far more sensible for MS to move to Mumbai for most of their operations and keep the Dublin setup as it is. Staffing is cheap in Mumbai and there is a fast-growing computer/IT industry there and to top it all off a government that is willing to bend over backwards - for a small fee.

Re:Sure, move out. (5, Funny)

Trailer Trash (60756) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232577)

Perhaps if MS was under the jurisdiction of the EU, they'll do what the DoJ should have done and will break it up into several MiniSofts.

Those would be "picosofts".

Re:Sure, move out. (-1, Flamebait)

NervousNerd (1190935) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232481)

Yeah, what would happen if say, (hypothetically of course) ReactOS or WINE used some of the code in the 2004 leak? Would they be able to go after them?

Re:Sure, move out. (1)

The_Quinn (748261) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232581)

Microsoft is having huge problems with the EU because, well they are actually interested in the public good.

Microsoft is not the only one. People who want privacy, liberty, and economic stability are also having huge problems due to the "public good".

Re:Sure, move out. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28232281)

Or, how will US government (e.g. its military) view the idea of using a 'foreign' OS?
It would not surprise me if such a move would hasten a 'turning away from windows' trend in US government.
And if the US government is anything like the EU on this, the consequence would be that other businesses would start migrating away from windows as well...
I am no consultant with Mircrosoft, but if I were, I would advise against it... The strength of the Microsoft brandname is largely due to its US connection. Cut it, and it might very well dwindle overnight?

Re:Sure, move out. (5, Interesting)

Narpak (961733) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232369)

Or, how will US government (e.g. its military) view the idea of using a 'foreign' OS?

Well I know that the Norwegian Military (particularly parts of the intelligence operations) decided that they would no longer trust or use Windows some years back.

Re:Sure, move out. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28232335)

One better. If MSFT pulls out of the USA they lose the influence they have with US patent law isn't the same as the EU, and the EU will kick MSFT to the curb several times over.

While they retain those patents in the USA, they are worthless in the EU.

So I say go MSFT and let the door hit you on the way out.

Re:Sure, move out. (5, Insightful)

Narpak (961733) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232423)

If they go out of US, to who M$ will complain to prevent unlicensed use of Windows?

It's SO unfair that people pirate our products! We made those products and we deserve our cut damn it!
It's SO unfair that we have to like obey our nations tax laws!
Yeah lets go after those that break the laws we like and lets use all our lawyers and accountants to avoid the laws we don't like.

WTF?!? (4, Insightful)

PenguinGuy (307634) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232229)

He admits they transferred resources to Ireland to avoid taxes and then whines that if they go after that, he'll leave...WTF?!?!?

All I can say is 'so long Monkey Boy'

Ballmer threatens to pull out? (5, Funny)

Alsee (515537) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232233)

Too bad Ballmer's father didn't pull out.

-

Re:Ballmer threatens to pull out? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28232305)

Butt he thought of his children while embracing them and extending his love

captcha shames

Re:Ballmer threatens to pull out? (0, Redundant)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232353)

HAW! Well done, my friend. Well done.

Personally I'd rather have seen him as a third-trimester abortion. Let's cross our fingers and hope that he gets the hell outta here.

Re:Ballmer threatens to pull out? (5, Funny)

pohl (872) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232363)

Ugh, thank you. Now I have this image of a sweaty Steve Ballmer Sr. saying "...I...love...this..company...YEAH!...come on baby, give me your face"

Re:Ballmer threatens to pull out? (2, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232507)

I kind of thought the news here was CEO Donkey Kong using a five dollar word like "disingenuous". It's one of my favorite words, and ironically enough I often apply it to statements from Microsoft.

But corporations don't pay tax (1, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232237)

Corporations don't pay tax. Not really. They pass on that tax to their customers. Ultimately, it is the consumer that pays the tax.

Re:But corporations don't pay tax (5, Informative)

Penguinoflight (517245) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232295)

Depends on the market. In the case of Microsoft software, the consumers don't pay the tax. Microsoft's main titles (Windows & Office) are both mostly market monopolies, which means that the price is set based on how much people are willing to pay for the software. The price is set based only on the contrast between number of sales and price per sale to optimize for maximum product.

In cases like this, the industry ends up paying the taxes. While the monopoly company has less funds to develop improvement in the software, users of the software receive less functionality. Software developers and domestic employees are hurt the most, having less employer competition due to work being outsourced.

Re:But corporations don't pay tax (0, Flamebait)

FriendlyLurker (50431) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232357)

Depends on the market. In the case of Microsoft software, the consumers don't pay the tax. Microsoft's main titles (Windows & Office) are both mostly market monopolies, which means that the price is set based on how much people are willing to pay for the software. The price is set based only on the contrast between number of sales and price per sale to optimize for maximum product.

In cases like this, the industry ends up paying the taxes. While the monopoly company has less funds to develop improvement in the software, users of the software receive less functionality. Software developers and domestic employees are hurt the most, having less employer competition due to work being outsourced.

Someone modded you troll, looks like your insight touched a raw nerve there, Penguinoflight

Re:But corporations don't pay tax (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28232569)

Software developers and domestic employees are hurt the most, having less employer competition due to work being outsourced.

So how long have you been living under that rock? Microsoft didn't need curbs on tax avoidance to start it down the the path of outsourcing and H1B's.

You also overlook an important fact... MSFT is a pyramid scheme, [fool.com] the software is incidental. Gates has been divesting MSFT stock for a few years now and MSFT have been issuing debt... the writing's on the wall for anybody with enough of a clue to read it!

Re:But corporations don't pay tax (5, Insightful)

Hans Lehmann (571625) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232373)

Individuals don't pay tax. Not really. We pass that tax to our employers by charging higher salaries. Can I get a free ride now just like a corporation??

Re:But corporations don't pay tax (5, Insightful)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232463)

Right; most taxes are based on transfers of capital. There's no fundamental difference between a tax on a corporation / income tax or sales tax. The money has moved from control of one (legal) person to another. Also the grandparent is assuming that companies charge for their products according to their costs which is garbage. They charge according to what they can charge. If MS starts paying fair taxes and increases product costs to cover it, that would give linux distribution builders who have to pay full income tax a more fair chance in the market.

Re:But corporations don't pay tax (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28232425)

There is an important distinction between different types of taxes: The nation to which taxes are paid. Let's say we believe you and conclude that corporate taxes should be lowered or abolished, since the consumer ends up paying them anyway. The problem with that is that Microsoft sells its products all over the world: a corporate tax is a way of funneling money from consumers in other countries to the local economy which provides the infrastructure for the creation of the products. Without corporate taxes, the people in the US end up financing the infrastructure by themselves, while people everywhere benefit from cheaper products. The flip side of this argument is the basis for the article: People in the US need local jobs, so they can't make being a corporation in the US too expensive. It is important to realize that that isn't the only side to this argument though.

Re:But corporations don't pay tax (5, Insightful)

Voline (207517) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232427)

Not true.

Companies are constrained from passing on the full value of their tax to their customers by the price elasticity of demand for their product. Which in turn depends on the how much their customers need their product (can they put off buying them or do without, do they yearn for it?) and the availability of substitute products and the degree to which those substitute products are suitable (Linux and Mac OS X are pretty good, as is OpenOffice).

If he could pass on the full cost to his customers Ballmer wouldn't care about a tax increase.

Re:But corporations don't pay tax (1)

WheelDweller (108946) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232461)

Very true. But if they pull out of the US, they actually get to *keep* the profits. Let's face it- we're talking about a lot of them, here. Last I looked, Bill had $39B and Microsoft had something like $40B. That's big money, unless you were elected to Congress.

I was annoyed with the time-honored rhetoric "Billionare Ballmer said". As in several quarters, like science, several kinds of professional people have been seduced, and there's always time for class warfare from the state-run media. It's NOT EVIL TO HAVE MONEY.

Until the angry Left wakes up and smells the depression, all we can do is wait and think about how to get out of this hole we've permitted ourselves to fall in. :(

Re:But corporations don't pay tax (1)

dcollins (135727) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232499)

"Corporations don't pay tax. Not really. They pass on that tax to their customers. Ultimately, it is the consumer that pays the tax."

I'm guessing that Steve Ballmer has thought about this a little more closely than you have.

Re:But corporations don't pay tax (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232535)

Are you being serious or sarcastic? I can't tell.

There are people who believe that-- that corporations just pass their costs onto consumers, but it really doesn't work that way. That's just the political talking point someone came up with to get people on the side of corporations. The reality is, corporations spend lots of money lobbying to keep their taxes low.

Re:But corporations don't pay tax (2, Insightful)

mbone (558574) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232547)

Companies don't pay for routers. Not really. They just pass those costs to their customers. Ultimately, it is the consumer that pays for routers.

Statements like this are true, but irrelevant.

Then boycott MS (1, Insightful)

Burz (138833) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232241)

If anything had us doubting they maintain their position with criminal means, this should remove the uncertainty.

Re:Then boycott MS (3, Insightful)

bxwatso (1059160) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232299)

I assume that you pay more in taxes than you have to, or else you are a criminal?
Moving operations to the lowest cost location is not illegal. Also, it is inevitable. Even if MS doesn't do it, someone will form a software company offshore that costs less to operate. Over the long term, this new company will take business from MS, making the end result the exact same.
Try as you and Lou Dobbs might, you can't stop the free market. Wealth and employment will eventually move to the most business friendly locations.

Get rid of our horrible tax system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28232415)

Which is why would should be cutting corporate taxes, and the upper tax bracket. The US has one of the highest Corporate taxes in the world, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tax_rates_around_the_world [wikipedia.org].

We have one of the most needlessly complex tax systems in the world, it is no wonder that the rich are able to find loop holes left and right. What we need, at the very least is a flat income tax. Ideally, there would be no federal income tax, and a small (less than 10%) corporate tax. If the US focused on having a lower tax rate we would actually collect more taxes. See the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laffer_curve [wikipedia.org]

But of course this is Slashdot, where supply side economics is called vodoo economics and everyone is into http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keynesian_economics [wikipedia.org] and it's big government bailouts. You know, cause the Republicans and George W Bush are evil.

Re:Get rid of our horrible tax system (4, Interesting)

neomunk (913773) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232565)

You know, cause the Republicans and George W Bush are evil.

Or it might be because 30 years of supply-side greedfest has destroyed our economy... One of the two. Yeah, it's probably because they're evil though, because slashdotters are too stupid to notice something like economics but we all consult our priests and/or crystal balls daily.

Nid ad hominem though, I really felt part of a group there for a second.

Re:Then boycott MS (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28232505)

Ya know, just because some corporation skips out of town to save a buck doesn't mean it's a good thing or even the proper thing to do. It just means that they're making more money at the expense of the country that allowed them to get so big in the first place. Capitalism has flaws and that is one of them. I don't really understand your sentiment. Looks good on paper, smells like crap in practice. People should trust their noses.

Clueless (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28232245)

MS would not be about to get visas for other countries. Most Americans generally don't like to know about the rest or the world, let alone live there. Sod off yourself though, dancing monkey fat boy.

Shit (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28232247)

I live in Ireland. Should I be worried about flying chairs now?

Move employees offshore (4, Funny)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232249)

It's just like moving rack mounted servers offshore. Just box them, ship them, and install in the new offices.

AMERICAAAAAAAA (1)

gnudutch (235983) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232257)

F*** yeah.

Re:AMERICAAAAAAAA (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28232447)

(face | fact | fall | farm | fear | fire | fish | flag | flat | fold | food | foot | fork | form | fowl | free | from | full) yeah!

Next time, just say 'fuck'.

Like Delaware (3, Interesting)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232259)

I don't believe Ballmer has the ballmers to move the whole company out of the U.S., much less trade his life in the Emerald City for the Emerald Isle.

But I do believe he has a point about seeking out the lowest cost of business, and if it comes down to it, I wouldn't be surprised to see Microsoft move all accounts receivabo to a tax haven and just keep cost centers in the U.S.

Take a look at what they've already done. They have already set up development centers in low labor cost countries like India and China. Moving more of those jobs out of the U.S. would just be a natural progression in the quest for lower costs. The worst part of this is that as time goes by the developers in those up and coming countries are getting just as good as their American counterparts. At some point we're looking at a hiring crisis here in America.

We're facing a 16 year educational depression as the currently undereducated kids gets graduates and makes way for a new generation educated satisfactorily. Naturally, this begs the question, but I think Obama is the guy to make the right changes to the DOE.

(Obama && NEA) != Future (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28232531)

Obama is the right guy? Really? Like pandering to the NEA? The single greatest threat to the American education system?

What the US needs is School Choice. You should not be locked into a certain school because that is where you live, you should be able to take your money, that you pay in property taxes, and give it to a school that preforms better than others.

This is what NCLB was suppose to do, make it ridiculously impossible for even the best schools to qualify, and then allow parents that option of putting their kids in a school that qualifies. Eventually, there would be no more public schools that qualify, so you have to turn to private schools, IE school choice.

Obama wants just the opposite, mindless robots that will vote the party line so they can continue to get their goverment provided benifits. The NEA education system supports that goal in it's entirety.

Evil, evil Microsoft... (1, Funny)

denzacar (181829) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232261)

Looking for ways to make money for its greedy, greedy shareholders.

Re:Evil, evil Microsoft... (1)

hogleg (1147911) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232439)

Thats pretty harsh. Do you have a 401k, stocks or bonds. Then at a certain level you are a shareholder too. I know I want the best return on my investment. Having said that, I would say that a line has to be drawn somewhere. I am not some communist/socialist/liberal take all of the rich peoples money and give it to the poor ( like that would solve anything) but I do think an individual/corporation should have some sort of moral/ethical compass to abide by. And I don't think its all that complicated to figure out either. Remember,we have all been touched by his noodly appendage.

And as a reward... (5, Interesting)

rkhalloran (136467) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232265)

While it is a requirement of a corporation to maximize the shareholders' value, Ballmer is simply grandstanding and expecting the government to roll over for MS' benefit. The current administration is much less submissive to corporate political desires.

The Administration should VERY publicly call them out and recommend government offices immediately develop a schedule for converting as much of the IT infrastructure as possible away from MS software.

Re:And as a reward... (4, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232527)

While I agree with the rest of this statement, the crap like "it is a requirement of a corporation to maximize the shareholders...." blah blah blah need to be RETIRED. Repeating this corporate dogma garbage just strengthens the hand of blowhards like Ballmer.

It is NOT HAPPENING in the U.S... it's all about doing what's best for the corporate elite at the very top. Even if you accept the "corporations work for the betterment of the shareholders" argument for a second you then need to take into account that the biggest shareholders by far are the Board members and CEOs at the top anyway and they are STILL just working in their own best interest.

Re:And as a reward... (1)

sesshomaru (173381) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232571)


The current administration is much less submissive to corporate political desires.

I haven't seen any evidence of this. Yes, the current administration favors the FIRE (Finance, Insurance and Real Estate) sector over manufacturing. Indeed Obama favors FIRE over all other businesses, so I'm guessing he's looking for a do nothing job at one of the big funds after his term as president is up. (It's the only thing that makes sense, since what's good for Goldman Sachs, currently, is what is bad for America.)

However, favoring one group of corporations over another group of corporations is not being "less submissive to corporate political desires."

I'm actually expecting Obama to roll over on the overseas tax havens, but perhaps I'll be pleasantly surprised.

Still, he's not as bad as Arnold.

Not very bright... (5, Insightful)

dpilot (134227) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232267)

First off, it just isn't a very good idea to start going tit-for-tat with the US government. That's especially true for a convicted monopolist, not to mention the fact that the previous administration essentially cancelled anything so severe as even a wrist-slap.

That judgement could be re-examined.

Second, that's just a really patriotic, really American thing to do. Or does it mean that patriotism is defined one way for corporations and their heads, and another way for "merely working Americans"? For one of the most profitable corporations in US history to in all essence say, "I don't want to pay my fair share, I'm taking the rest of the American jobs overseas," is a real slap in the face. It's also not as if this is meant to be a tax increase, it's meant to be eliminating a tax shelter. For you and me, using such a tax shelter would be cheating, avoiding doing our fair share.

Third, I'm sure "Vista for the US Army" isn't a done deal. Also don't forget, Linus Torvalds is a US resident, and I'm sure *he* pays his income taxes, as do the various US-residing RedHat, Novell, etc, employees.

Re:Not very bright... (4, Interesting)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232381)

First off, it just isn't a very good idea to start going tit-for-tat with the US government.

No duh. If it happened (or started to happen), I'd see three possibilities:

  1. U.S. Federal Government switches to Apple (Still US company)
  2. U.S. Fed Govt switches to an NSA version of Linux
  3. And most likely: U.S. Fed Govt declares "National Security" and "Eminent Domain" (or the business equivalent), and prevent MS from moving because MS Windows is used in top levels of Government, warships, nuclear power plants...

Re:Not very bright... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28232397)

Since when is going along with excessive taxation being patriotic? This country was founded on the principals of capitalism and *limited* government. Adhering to those principles seems more patriotic than foolishly helping our government get larger and more out of control.

Re:Not very bright... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28232409)

First, we need more of this, more companies unwilling to let power and money consolidate in Washington.

Second, Microsoft doesn't have any responsibility to America, America has a responsibility to Microsoft by creating a business environment in which they can compete. If they can't compete, or even if they can, they are free to do as they please. Their benefit to society is the products they build and the jobs they create ( regardless of if they are good or not, that is for each individual and business purchaser to decide).

'Fair share' is a term used by people who like to loot other peoples hard earned money by force.

BTW, Apple, Intel, Facebook and many other have moved parts of their companies to Ireland for the exact same reason. So while you think Microsoft and all these other companies need to be punished even more for their success Ireland benefits from the lower taxes and we lose jobs and the country loses a big chunk of tax income.

Re:Not very bright... (1)

DoninIN (115418) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232417)

True, the US government doesn't stand a chance against Microsoft, I thought we'd been through this before? We'll end up with an Uber Enterprise zone with 0% taxes on anything and legalized murder if Balmer signs off on it and this zone will consist of the redmond campus only. Also Google will be found to be a hurtful monopoly and bombed, but only after they can get Live search to actually find anything at all.

Re:Not very bright... (1)

nxtw (866177) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232497)

Corporations don't have feelings. Multinational corporations do not make decisions based on patriotism.

Move Microsoft Employees Offshore? (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232271)

That sounds great. I suggest moving them about 100 miles offshore, and then dropping them. It should make a satisfying splash sound. Then comes the thrashing, and the drowning, and the bubbles.

On a more serious note, just how many employees do they think are going to pick up and leave Washington for Ireland? Was this their plan all along? I guess the climates are compatible...

Re:Move Microsoft Employees Offshore? (4, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232347)

On a more serious note, just how many employees do they think are going to pick up and leave Washington for Ireland? Was this their plan all along? I guess the climates are compatible...

IBM did it. They started laying a bunch of people off, and while they were on their way out the door, they 'suggested' that they apply to IBM India. Some employees took them up on it.

Remember that 'giant sucking sound' Ross Perot was talking about back in the 90s? Everyone was laughing at him them, but look who's laughing now.

No Surprise (2, Insightful)

Khan (19367) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232275)

Greed.....just as old as prostitution, war and slavery.

Personally, I'm surprised MS hasn't moved out already. Not to mention plenty of other greedy corporations like the one that I work for. More and more, I'm beginning to think that it's time to get out of IT. The "bottom line" is all these fuckers truly care about. All I know is that karma will eventually catch up to them.

Tax profits based upon proportion of Revenue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28232285)

Perhaps it's just time to give up the sham of profit locality.
Corporations have been manipulating their balance sheets via bogus sales/transfers between subsidiaries for years.

If a corporation gets 90% of revenue from US based sales, perhaps the US should get to tax 90% of the global profit.

Another bonus, this would disincent large profitable companies from trying to break into a market regardless of early losses, since revenue would expose their profits from other business lines to further taxes. Why should Microsoft get to suffer huge losses on the XBox for years and years just because their a monopolist in other markets?

great news, hope he follows thru! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28232297)

this is fantastic! One of the biggest corporations in the world saying NO to obama and his liberal agenda. if the rest of the business in this country would follow suit maybe the 'tax and spend' nonsense would finally stop! once and for all!

On pulling out (4, Insightful)

Renderer of Evil (604742) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232309)

Microsoft: exploits loopholes in law to avoid paying corporate taxes.
People: exploit loopholes in Windows activation to avoid paying for a license.

I'm okay with this (0)

lwsimon (724555) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232327)

As a shareholder, this is a great move. If this saves MS money, it puts more money in my pocket.

Re:I'm okay with this (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28232399)

Yeah, and then it goes right back out to the government to make up for the lost taxes from MS. Good thinking, son.

Pure FUD. (5, Insightful)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232337)

The sad thing is that this is all Microsoft has become. Microsoft won't leave the US. For one thing there's a lot more to running a business than a freaking tax shelter. This is just another instance of Balmer blowing smoke. It's really a large portion of how he tries to exert influence.

I think Balmer is going to soon learn this is simply NOT the time to start drawing lines in the sand between greedy corporations and everyone else. Public opinion of Microsoft DOES matter, and painting your corporation as a bunch of dickweeds that'll just up and leave over some legislation is just idiotic.

Sound business decision (1, Interesting)

ausekilis (1513635) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232351)

They can build an island just offshore from WA in international waters, set up their own nation, declare financial independence from the U.S. and every other nation. They can then set up commuter ferries to make the trek to/from the "mainland" take an extra couple hours a day. Then a couple things can happen, either 1) We set up trade embargos and they still get the rear admiral from the Gov, or 2) the employees get sick of the shenanigans and move to another company (say, Apple? RedHat?).

tit for tat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28232359)

I wonder if the Irish taking on Microsoft would be on par with the Irish giving the Scottish the bagpipes.

I say if they do the US retaliate (1)

ndavis (1499237) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232365)

I say the US then goes after Microsoft and EULA that they put on their software declaring it illegal and that they must pay a fine as well as return $30 to every person who owns a copy of windows. I say that would make Ballmer shut his trap. Not to mention I would love to claim a few hundred for the copies of windows I was forced to own.

Pull out, already (4, Funny)

kylben (1008989) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232383)

Pull out, already, Steve. America's asshole is sore enough.

On the other hand, Steve himself is a good candidate for the title "America's Asshole". I'm all for anyone with financial clout standing up to Obama and congress, but the enemy of my enemy is not automatically my friend.

Bite the hand that feeds... (1, Insightful)

The_Quinn (748261) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232387)

The U.S. is becoming increasingly hostile toward business. I certainly wouldn't blame Microsoft, Google, Intel or any big company for leaving the U.S. if they can find a country that does not view them as a cash cow, does not attack them with anti-trust, and does not punish their energy-use with cap and trade.

A smart country could displace the U.S. as the economic leader in the world by recognizing and protecting the liberties required for individuals and companies to survive and prosper. If there were a country with minimal tax, strong protection from the government, freedom to think and act - I know I would move there.

In makes you wonder (2, Insightful)

Lex-Man82 (994679) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232395)

It makes you wonder if they are happy enough to pay their EU fines without to much fuss and threatening to move there EU based developments back to the US how much tax dodging are they doing?

Please please please please please! (3, Insightful)

timepilot (116247) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232401)

Steve, please do it. And better still, please keep telling everyone you're going to do it. You know what, how about starting a blog and telling everyone exactly how you think the American public and the world at large should make life better for the M$ shareholders.

Please, we want to know.

So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28232411)

All US companies will be on equal footing, so what's Ballmer's problem? If it's more expensive for MS, it will also be more expensive for other companies that have been using tax shelters. Does Ballmer think MS can't compete when it doesn't have an unfair advantage or something? Is it worried about foreign competition? Other companies have to deal with the same thing. Where's the problem?

Me too (1)

IlluminatedOne (621945) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232413)

I have been contemplating a move somewhere abroad myself. Its been in my thoughts since election night really. I am not an Obama hater, but I have drank the kool-aid either. The guy is very charismatic and a great speaker, but I don't feel he or his administration have a tight enough handle on what it takes to run this country. Since the Republicans have no apparent candidate that can pose a credible threat to Obama in 2012, he will likely be a two-term president. I don't think we will recognize this country when they are through.

Anyway, back on topic, I think that US jobs have been too expensive for years and that's largely attributable to the ridiculously high cost of healthcare. We have a HSA-based coverage plan now, so a portion of our healthcare costs are paid through a debit card until the deductible has been met (luckily, the deductible costs are picked up by the company). As a result, we get the bills for all the healthcare we receive as opposed to the random few that slipped through in the past. I wonder when reviewing them how the values placed on services/drugs/equipment are arrived upon. I know I am making an oversimplification, but it seems that they just pull numbers out of the air and then double them. Like an unscrupulous car mechanic telling an unsuspecting and uninformed motorist that a $50 part actually costs $500. The alternative it seems though is price fixing which can send quality of care spiraling down, so its a slippery slope for sure and a dilemma that has no win/win outcome IMO...

Don't let the door hit you on the ass (3, Interesting)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232433)

MS will never do it. American is their biggest friendliest market. Just look at the 360, outside of the US, it's pretty much a non-event and part of me think's America's love for MS has to do with patriotism.

MS does not have the balls to piss off their largest group of consumers and if they did, the government and turn around and start using a Linux distro developed by Americans (they should be doing this anyway) and MS will not go for that. They'd lose far more than they would by Obama fixing the tax loopholes.

So he can make empty threats all he wants. The gov should just tell him to fuck off to Ireland.

Like Nokia did in Finland (5, Interesting)

molukki (980837) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232435)

Sounds familiar. Nokia threatened to leave Finland unless they get the right to spy on their employees. The law (named "Lex Nokia" by the media) was passed on March 11th and became effective beginning this month.

This is a much bigger problem than MS (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28232437)

Ballmer's statement is simply the truth for a whole lot of industries. Supposedly, the fabric for your Levi's jeans is shipped to China to be cut into parts and then shipped back to the USA for sewing together. The LCD TV you buy from Sharp isn't really a constructed TV until the plastic bezel is snapped on here in the USA. All of this is done so that companies can avoid taxes. Companies are in business to provide a return on their shareholders' investment. Wall Street doesn't care if the profit margin went down because the government changed the tax laws. Investors will find some other company to invest their money. Adapting to the rules governments' place on them is part of doing business. IMO, this really isn't any different than when we 'forget' to pay the sales tax on stuff we bought from out-of-state. We all work the system to the extent that we can. I think this is just another example of the disconnect between the government and the real world. Seems to me the optimal solution would be to change the tax law so that these companies tax burden matches what they are achieving using these offshore loopholes and then eliminate the loopholes. That might encourage the companies to bring the jobs and profit back the the USA. We certainly could use the jobs right now.

Let them go, but, make their life miserable. (1)

TomTraynor (82129) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232443)

1. If they pull out them make them pay capital gains on all of their assets at the time they start to move out.
2. Point out that they are a convicted monopolist and the government will sic the anti-trust lawyers on them for years.
3. 'Thoroughly' inspect all of their packages coming in. If they can't import the software for sale they can't make a living.
4. Revoke the passports of all microsoft employees in the U.S. The braintrust can't leave the country!
5. Tell them that the government will be going open source and Linux over a transition period.
6. Remind them that their corporate charter is at the pleasure of the government and can be revoked.
7. Invite the execs to a hunt hosted by Cheney.

Re:Let them go, but, make their life miserable. (1)

salesgeek (263995) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232563)

How it really works:

1. MS Leaves.
2. US GDP falls by about 1.6%. (that would represent about the same fall in GDP we had in this current crisis, except this one is real).
3. Instant depression. Nice going.

Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28232467)

Why didn't I see such violent complaining when the story came through about Google taking data centers to the seas in order to avoid taxation? I will *never* understand the blatant Google fanboi crowd when Microsoft and Google have essentially become two heads on the same monster. If you hate Microsoft because they are the "evil empire" then open your eyes, Google is right there with them.

The truth of the matter is that taking companies to locations with a lower corporate tax is not only a good business practice, but good for us consumers as well. As has been said above, we are the people who end up paying a good portion of the increase in taxes on corporations. Taxes are an expense that cannot be mitigated or controlled by a business in any way other than moving away from the tax. By driving up corporate taxes we are inevitably going to drive away jobs from the U.S., not only at Microsoft but at countless other corporations. It has been happening for years, why do you think many of your calls for tech support are answered in India?

how patriotic! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28232469)

Aren't people like Gates and Ballmer the types of "True Patriots" and "Real Americans" that conservatives go on and on about? I guess there's nothing more patriotic than moving your company to another country (a la Haliburton) when you don't get your way......

A Translation for those with a smidgen of Latin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28232515)

If Ballmer were to carry through on his latest version of jumping up and down to get attention, it would be a case of Microsoft fuckus interruptus.

I'm all in favor of it. You go, Ballmer. Go, go ,go...

good riddance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28232517)

Fuck off, Ballmer.

Better yet, why don't you wheel and deal with Michigan and move there and get their economy going rather than bitching and moaning that company you inherited isn't going to make you retire a multibillionaire but just a billionaire.

US ECONOMY SUFFERS AND WE ASK WHY? (1)

new2_60605 (1328721) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232567)

The us economy is suffering and major us corporations that make up a majority of the worlds economy avoid paying taxes there by placing the entire burden on individual tax payers to support the country. the same country that creates a free market for them to operate freely and profitably. Instead of supporting the economy in which they need to operate they move funds and jobs offshore. And now people wonder why our economy is in the dumps? The country's number 1 defense contractor Haliburton moved to DUBAI to avoid paying us taxes when in fact the majority of US Taxes are being paid to them for services rendered. On top of that Haliburton does not employ US citezens that would be paying into the US economy in the form of income taxes instead they hire people from Pakistan for cheap and violate their rights all in the name of spreading democracy, peace and 'human' rights... 'human' meaning FAT CAT US EXECS. GROW UP AMERICA our politicians sold us out and now they want us to pay for the service after the sale too...

The Spoiled Kid (1, Flamebait)

darkcmd (894336) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232579)

Ballmer is like a spoiled kid who whines because he didn't get a toy during the family trip to Walmart.

How great would this be! (1)

zerofoo (262795) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232583)

OK, not if you are one of the people losing your jobs due to this clown, but think of the public policy repercussions!

Finally, our Government will have no (political) reasons to prefer Microsoft software. If Microsoft's products are imported, then our Government might actually start evaluating software based on it's merits.

Next we need the pharmaceutical, music, and movie industries to move off-shore - then our politicians may actually want to fix copyright laws.

-ted

GOOD MS plz move to Dublin (1, Flamebait)

mrnick (108356) | more than 4 years ago | (#28232585)

If Microsoft pulls another stunt, like this, to rape the American people for every last dime then Maybe our government will grow a sack and ban any software from Dublin. Or better yet put a tariff on software imported into the US to offset them using yet another loophole to avoid paying for the COB (Cost of doing business).

I hope I live long enough to visit Gate's grave. Even though I'm sure his evil empire will live well beyond him we have to live for the little things.

Corporate Taxation is Stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28232587)

Corporations don't pay taxes, their customer do. This is obvious, since corporations only have income from sales, right?

Why not remove all the hassles for corporations by stop taxing their income and only tax sales on new items? Used items wouldn't be taxed, used homes, used cars, used diapers - not taxed. This would encourage "reuse" for all the "green" and save the earth people.

If corporations are not taxed at all, then jobs would flock to the country that does that.

Income taxes miss the entire black market and crime worlds. Rather than miss those people, a national sales tax is needed. This also gets taxes people who work "off the books."

Taxing sales could be called a regressive tax since poorer people spend more on food relative to their income. To solve that issue, everyone who is a citizen and registers their family would get a "food tax rebate" monthly to cover the taxes on food. This is an estimated amount, not based on income or location. If you live where food is cheaper, then this rebate gives you more money, relatively. If you choose to live in more expensive food locations, it helps less.

I wish I had come up with this idea, but I didn't. http://www.fairtax.org/site/PageServer?pagename=about_main [fairtax.org]

It encourages hard work. The government gets the same amount of money that they get today. Reuse is encouraged. The IRS is gone. Your spending determines you taxation, so saving is encouraged. Really wealthy people spend more, so they are taxed at a much higher rate.

Most importantly, with corporate taxation gone, many, many jobs would flock to the USA. Offshore work would still exist, but it would need to be even more competitive.

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