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A (half) whopper about Burger King's taxes

When Burger King, the American fast-food icon, announced a deal to join forces with the Canadian coffee-and-donuts giant Tim Hortons, the reaction was swift. Burger King, it turned out, would become part of a Canadian parent company, potentially resulting in significant savings on what it pays in U.S. taxes -- a maneuver known as a corporate tax "inversion." Politicians, and ordinary Americans, cried foul.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, urged customers to bring their fast-food cravings to two companies that have long operated from Ohio -- Wendy’s and White Castle. "Burger King has always said ‘Have it Your Way,’ " Brown said in a statement. "Well, my way is to support two Ohio companies that haven’t abandoned their country or customers."

Meanwhile, hundreds of commenters took to Facebook to protest the move. "If Burger King goes ahead with the ugly, greedy, anti-American tax-avoidance ploy of this inversion, I will NEVER AGAIN set foot inside any of your restaurants," said one.

A reader asked us to check the accuracy of Burger King’s own Facebook message about the transaction. Here’s what the companyposted:

"We hear you. We’re not moving, we’re just growing and finding ways to serve you better.

"As part of the announcement made today, both Burger King Corp. and Tim Hortons will continue to operate as independent brands. We’ll just be under common ownership. Our headquarters will remain in Miami where we were founded more than 60 years ago and business will continue as usual at our restaurants around the world.

"The decision to create a new global QSR leader with Tim Hortons is not tax-driven – it’s about global growth for both brands. BKC will continue to pay all of our federal, state and local U.S. taxes.

"We’re proud of the heritage of Burger King and will maintain our long-standing commitment to our employees, franchisees and the local communities we serve.

"The WHOPPER isn’t going anywhere."

We decided to check the company’s claim that after merging with Tim Hortons of Canada, Burger King is "not moving. … Our headquarters will remain in Miami" and "(we) will continue to pay all of our federal, state and local U.S. taxes." (Burger King's public-relations firm did not return an inquiry.) Turn to Louis Jacobson's full fact-check.

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