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Walgreens possible move overseas becomes a big issue in Illinois Governor's race

President Barack Obama isn't the only elected official concerned about "tax inversions," and the possibility that Deerfield-based Walgreens Inc., may move its corporate headquarters overseas. Obama recently told Steve Liesman, senior economics reporter for CNBC, Congress should strip away tax advantages known as "tax inversions," that have encouraged a rush of mergers and acquisitions that give companies an overseas base. Without mentioning Walgreens by name, it was clear Obama had Walgreens in mind. In Illinois, the two candidates for Governor of Illinois also did not name Walgreens, but both commented on "inversions," reported Capitol Fax's Rich Miller.

Demonstrators protest against the possibility of Walgreens moving their corporate headquarters overseas outside a Walgreens store. Walgreens, with annual sales of about $72 billion,  is considering moving its headquarters to Switzerland.
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Democratic Governor Pat Quinn said, "Big corporations should not be allowed to exploit the tax code to avoid paying their fair share. Members of the House and Senate supporting closure of this loophole are right – corporations should not be allowed to shirk their own responsibilities while passing on the burden to everyday taxpayers."

Quinn added, "These corporations benefit from America's world-class infrastructure, education system, skilled workforce and competitive economy – not to mention U.S. customers. Yet they’re looking to renounce their citizenship and shortchange America and the everyday people who helped them grow and thrive. I urge Congress to take swift action on the President’s proposal to end this abuse and close this unpatriotic loophole. It's the right thing to do."

Quinn's opponent, Bruce Rauner, also issued a statement. "America needs to compete, Illinois needs to compete. The right answer is not to create walls, to block companies and people. That's terrible. We should be about freedom, choice and competition."

A spokesperson for the Democratic Governors Association, Rikeesha Phelon, released a statement about Walgreens and the repeal of the "inversion" loophole in the corporate tax code.

Does Bruce Rauner believe that corporations who profit from conditions created in the United States - including transportation infrastructure, competitive economy and our skilled workforce - should be under no obligation to secure these conditions like the rest of us? Does Bruce Rauner believe that corporations and the super-rich have any responsibility to the country in which they live, or can they all take their money and hide it elsewhere?

Illinois Democratic Senator Dick Durbin has introduced a bill, No Federal Contracts for Corporate Deserters Act, which if enacted would mean federal contracts would not go to businesses that incorporate overseas unless they are at least 50 percent owned by U.S. shareholders and do not have substantial business opportunities in the foreign country in which they are incorporating. The law now defines a company as being "inverted" if it is at least 80 percent owned by U.S. shareholders after it reincorporates overseas, according to Durbin.

Durbin's opponent, Illinois State Senator Jim Oberweis responded. "Dick Durbin and his job-killing policies have produced the worst economic recovery in U.S. history and this is just more of the same. It is a poor excuse for tax reform and not a serious attempt to fix our country’s anemic economy."

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