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6/4/2009
03:07 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
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Obama Protectionism Blasted By Microsoft's Ballmer And Symantec's Thompson

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Symantec Chairman John Thompson say the Obama administration's plans to revise tax policy on foreign profits will force U.S. companies to move more employees overseas due to the higher cost of business and lower profits such policy would trigger.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Symantec Chairman John Thompson say the Obama administration's plans to revise tax policy on foreign profits will force U.S. companies to move more employees overseas due to the higher cost of business and lower profits such policy would trigger."We're better off taking lots of people and moving them out of the U.S. as opposed to keeping them inside the U.S.," Ballmer said in an interview with Bloomberg News. The Obama administration's effort to limit deductions on foreign profits would lead to increased costs in the U.S. for Microsoft, requiring Ballmer to fulfill his "fiduciary responsibility" to shareholders by lowering the company's costs by shifting jobs to other countries with lower corporate tax rates.

Bloomberg News also reported that Symantec's Thompson "said software companies are frustrated by being called tax cheats and compared with companies that moved their headquarters to low-tax countries such as Bermuda."

Calling the Obama proposals "counterintuitive," Thompson said, "It is a little bit ironic that most of our most significant trading partners and partners globally have taken the tack that they'll reduce corporate tax rates to stimulate economic growth and not raise corporate tax rates," Bloomberg reported.

The comments from leaders of two of the most-powerful software companies in the IT industry came one day after top executives of Indian IT software and services companies said the Obama proposals will hurt American competitiveness.

Thompson and Ballmer made the comments during a series of events in Washington as 10 software companies met with Obama administration policymakers to present their opposition to the proposed new policies about offshore taxation. Bloomberg said Thompson and Ballmer were joined by several other software-company executives who participated in a Bloomberg roundtable discussion during which they said the proposed policies "would hurt domestic investment, reduce shareholder value and increase the cost of employing U.S. workers."

As of April 21, Microsoft had a total of 95,029 employees worldwide, with 56,552 (about 59.4%) based in the U.S. and 38,477 (about 40.6%) based outside the U.S.

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