(Bloomberg) — Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc., Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc. are girding for a tough hearing in Congress on Wednesday. But the real threat facing the tech firms comes not from lawmakers now, but from higher taxes later if Joe Biden beats President Trump in November, according to one analyst.
“A public flogging is likely” when chief executives Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook, Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai testify before House members who “unabashedly say they want to break up the industry,” AGF Investments Chief U.S. Policy Strategist Greg Valliere wrote in a note. Valliere doubts, however, that tech companies will in fact be forced to split up.
Instead, he said that an “aggressive new minimum tax that could be enacted within a year” presents a more immediate threat to the industry.
Valliere added that the four companies “contribute lavishly to political campaigns,” and have lobbyists who correctly point out that “this is perhaps the most successful and innovative industry in American history.” On the other hand, he called the low taxes paid by the tech giants — and by Wall Street firms — their “Achilles’ heel.” He noted that Amazon reportedly paid no taxes, and got a $129 million rebate, in 2018, when it earned $11 billion in income.
Politicians on both the right and the left zeroing in on technology leaders haven’t dented their stocks’ recent market-beating gains. While the S&P 500 is virtually unchanged so far this year, Alphabet has rallied more than 13%, Facebook has risen 14%, Apple is up 28% and Amazon has jumped 65%. In Tuesday morning trading, the four stocks were down about 1% or less.
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