The Financial Times reported Feb. 10 that Microsoft is selling $7 billion worth of 40-year bonds to offload some of their corporate debt. On the other hand, they are sitting on mountains of cash and could retire that debt easily. For example, Business Insider reports Microsoft had nearly $93 billion of overseas cash in 2014, which allowed it to reduce its tax bill by almost $30 billion. This increased from $76.4 billion in 2013, by the way.
Setting aside Microsoft’s ability to foist their tax bill onto someone else (like you and me!), why would they engage in a much longer bond term? As the Financial Times article says, “Companies are emboldened by other companies. We may see others coming to markets with long-term paper, said Michael Kastner, managing principal at Halyard Asset Management.” . . . “For a borrower, it’s almost a no-brainer: they can lock-in very low rates for a long period of time.”
OK, who cares? I believe the effect of longer terms for bonds is to kick the financial bubble down the road a bit more. In other words, your grandchildren and my grandchildren will suffer for our profligate waste of energy, time and money.
So how easy would it be for legislators in Olympia who have some spine to actually tax these billionaires and millionaires from Microsoft with a state income tax? Pretty easy, but they would have to have some spine — and a clue.