Senate Finance Committee launches investigation into Abbvie tax practices

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), chair of the Senate Finance Committee Chair, launched an investigation into pharmaceutical company AbbVie’s international tax practices.

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Specifically, the investigation will look at how the 2017 tax law may have allowed the company to avoid paying taxes on U.S. prescription drug sales.

“(A)bbVie has been able to successfully exploit the incentives to offshore profit included in that law. According to company documents, AbbVie’s effective tax rate fell to just 8.7 percent in 2018, the first year after the passage of the 2017 Republican tax law. AbbVie subsequently paid an effective tax rate of just 8.6 percent in 2019 and 11.2 percent in 2020, rates that are far lower than the statutory corporate income tax rate of 21 percent in the United States and even far lower than what AbbVie paid just a few years before. Prior to the passage of the 2017 tax law, AbbVie paid effective tax rates of 20 percent in 2016 and 19 percent in 2017,” Wyden wrote in a letter to Abbvie officials.

In the letter, Wyden asked for a response to six questions about the matter by June 16.

“Instead of using the massive tax cuts given to AbbVie by the 2017 tax law to reduce drug prices for American families, AbbVie has instead chosen to provide a $10 billion windfall to its investors by substantially increasing the amount of money it spent buying back its own stock. In 2018 and 2019, AbbVie spent almost $13 billion on stock buybacks, quadruple what it spent on stock buybacks in the two years prior to the enactment of the 2017 tax law. In 2016 and 2017, AbbVie spent $3.1 billion on stock buybacks,” Wyden added.