On January 29, 2018, Broadcom Board of Directors approved the plan for Broadcom re-domiciliation in the United States. This move was expected after Broadcom’s November of 2017 pledge to president Trump that the company would return to the United States.
Broadcom Re-domiciliation: A Story of Tax Inversion and Tax Remorse
The story of the Broadcom re-domiciliation began fairly recently in February of 2016. At that time, Broadcom did what was very popular during the Obama administration – tax inversion. California-based Broadcom allowed itself to be acquired by Singapore’s Avago Technologies Limited with the result of creation of a single Singapore entity.
The real motivation for the inversion was lowering the corporate taxes. At that time, during the political climate that existed in the United States, Broadcom thought that it was a good move.
Now, Broadcom believes that the tax inversion might not have been such a great thing to do in light of the new developments and certain consequences that it did not seem to have anticipated prior to tax inversion. First of all, Broadcom’s business in the US has continued to expand as it stepped-up its acquisition strategy. Already in 2017, barely a year and a half after tax inversion, Broadcom has stated that the benefits of this business strategy outweigh the potential additional taxes it might have to pay when it returns to the United States (especially after the tax reform – see below).
Second and closely related to the first reason, as a foreign company based in Singapore, Broadcom is under constant scrutiny of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFI”). CFI focuses on the review of transactions that may result in control of a US business by a foreign person and the impact of such control on US national security. This is an irritating and expensive factor that continuously hinders Broadcom’s acquisition strategy in the United States.
Third, Broadcom apparently did not anticipate that the tax reform be so radical and so beneficial to corporations. There is one issue in particular that makes Broadcom re-domiciliation in the United States so important. At the time of its tax inversion, Broadcom established a deferred tax liability on its balance sheet with respect to integration of the company’s intellectual property (“IP”). Under the old law, this deferred tax liability would have become payable at 35% tax rate in the United States.
Now, under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (“TCJA”), this deferred liability will be recognized in fiscal year 2018 as deemed repatriated foreign earnings at a much lower tax rate. This means that Broadcom re-domiciliation in 2018 will save the company a huge amount in taxes; or, as the company itself put it: “a material reduction in the amount of other long-term liabilities on our balance sheet”.
Broadcom Re-domiciliation Approved Within One Month of TCJA
The tax motivation behind Broadcom re-domiciliation became especially evident in light of the fact that the Broadcom Board approved it within just one month of the passage of TCJA. Moreover, in its filings with SEC, Broadcom directly stated that, as a result of TCJA, the tax cost of being a US-based multinational company has decreased substantially.
Sherayzen Law Office will continue to observe the impact of the recent tax reform on the behavior of US companies that went through tax inversion.