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Frank Gray

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In this February 2013 file photo, a customer is served at a Burger King restaurant in France.

Reducing tax burden not a crime

Going to a fast-food restaurant for breakfast is really silly when you think about it.

How much trouble is it to make a bowl of cereal, or toast, or even a couple of fried eggs, and how much cheaper is it to eat at home, especially if you want a glass of orange juice?

A lot cheaper.

But there’s something about food cooked by someone else, even in a franchise outlet. It almost always tastes better, and it is easy.

That’s why I and millions of others occasionally drop by fast-food joints in the morning for anything from pancakes to cinnamon rolls and coffee. It’s easy and it tastes good – sometimes.

Not every fast-food outlet, though, makes a tasty breakfast.

Burger King, for example, was marketing some kind of breakfast bowl a few years ago. I bought one and quickly came to the conclusion that these drive-up eateries shouldn’t try certain dishes. It was ugly to look at and didn’t taste a whole lot better.

Needless to say, I haven’t tried breakfast at Burger King since.

Burger King, though, seems to be trying to change that. As most people have heard by now, it’s buying a Canadian company, Tim Hortons, which is apparently tremendously popular in Canada and known for, among other things, its breakfast menu.

The merger, though, has some people upset. Although Burger King will pay taxes on money it makes in the U.S. and its Burger King business will be run out of the U.S., the headquarters for the combined companies will move to Canada, where most of the restaurants will be. Supposedly, that will give it some tax savings.

Some people are outraged. TV talk show anchors to members of Congress are calling for a boycott of Burger King. Reportedly, some Burger King customers, who probably don’t do their own taxes, are swearing they’ve eaten their last Whopper.

Undoubtedly, some people will swear off Burger King, but I doubt many will.

I personally don’t like the idea of company headquarters heading to foreign countries, but I won’t be boycotting them. I’ll still show up occasionally on Whopper Wednesday to get a sandwich on the cheap, and maybe after joining with this Hortons outfit, Burger King will start offering better breakfasts.

That’s because I don’t see anything wrong with a company trying to trim its tax bill, even though Burger King insists it won’t get much of a break.

If you’ve ever done your own taxes, you might have noticed that even the Internal Revenue Service’s instruction booklet says you are entitled every deduction and break you can find, and it says the government doesn’t want anyone to pay any more in taxes than they are legally required to pay.

If people are that upset with companies engaging in what are called inversions, then change the law. If they do, will it screw up some mergers with foreign companies? Will there be equal consequences to changing the law?

I don’t know, but as far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing wrong with a company doing something that is legal.

Frank Gray reflects on his and others' experiences in columns published Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. He can be reached by phone at 461-8376, fax at 461-8893, or email at fgray@jg.net. You can also follow him on Twitter @FrankGrayJG.

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