NEW YORK -- Our friends across the Atlantic have always had keen distaste for Royalty – the Republic was, after all, founded on the rejection of 'Mad' King George. Now a business deal, confirmed on Tuesday, has Americans once again reaching for their muskets over another regal tyranny – that of Burger King.
On Saturday it was announced that the Miami-based fast food giant was to merge with Canadian coffee and doughnut chain Tim Hortons, with the combined company being headquartered in Canada. According to proponents of the merger, the £6.6 billion deal will create the world's third biggest fast food group, and an entity more capable of competing with McDonalds.
Off with his head?
However, critics have lambasted the whopper seller, calling the union an act of "tax inversion", where a company buys a competitor in a different country then renounces its US corporate citizenship to take advantage of more favourable tax rates overseas. But are corporate tax rates much lower in Canada? Yes – corporations pay 35% in the US and only 15% across the northern border.
This has gone down like a dodgy gherkin in an old bun with America’s fiercely nationalistic throng besieging BK's Facebook page, smearing accusation of treason across the social network like ketchup on a Bacon Double Cheeseburger. Some customers have gone as far as to say they've "eaten their last whopper".
Mike Robinette bellowed: "Pull that tax inversion stunt and I'll never spend another penny in any of your establishments. I'll also petition my Congressman to ensure all Burger Kings on US Military installations are closed since we should be supporting US corporations on our military bases."
Likewise, Brett Branson puffed his chest: "If you do an inversion deal, burger king will NEVER have me or anybody in my family as a customer ever again. I love BK, but I also love my country."
Jim Hunter simply offered: "Traitors".
'My Last. One. Ever'
On Twitter, the backlash was equally severe with "Burger King Treason" trending in both the US and Canada.
A petition entitled "Burger King: Don't Dodge American Taxes!" was posted on MoveOn.Org and is currently gathering names, while politicians, such as Senator Sherrod Brown from Ohio, have urged customers to buy their lunch from one of chain’s myriad competitors.
Speaking to HuffPost Live (video at the top), Senator Bernie Sanders warned that avoiding US taxes would have a detrimental affect on education and infrastructure. "Burger King is so visible, it puts a focus on the general behaviour of corporate America and, in a sense, the contempt they feel for the average American," he said.
So far there has been no official word from BK on the accusations of "tax dodging", though a statement from the company said paying less tax was not the reason for the merger.
"By bringing together our two iconic companies under common ownership we are creating a global QSR (quick service restaurant) powerhouse," said Alex Behring, executive chairman of Burger King. "Our combined size, international footprint and industry leading growth trajectory will deliver superb value and opportunity for both Burger King and Tim Hortons shareholders, our dedicated employees, strong franchisees and partners."
At the three outlets in the vicinity of your correspondent on Tuesday morning, there was no evidence of a slowdown in trade.