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Ask McArdle: Is Tim Hortons still Canadian?

And just how much lower will Burger King’s taxes be?

Tim Hortons cup in front of a large American flag

Is Tim Hortons still Canadian now that Burger King has bought the company?

Ask McArdle badgeAn unintended side effect of my globetrotting quest to earn the honorific “man of the world” is that Wee McArdle has lived much of his life on the move. In the language of expatriates, he’s a third-culture kid, or TCK, a native of one land with connections to and an affinity for many others.

Beloved Canadian icon Tim Hortons is something of a TCK itself. Its new owner, Burger King, is based in Miami, the land of timeshares and retirees, but is itself the property of 3G Capital, a Brazilian outfit. So you can expect to see a samba-ing bald eagle drinking maple syrup in the next Tim’s television spot.

Rather than Tim’s becoming American, Burger King is becoming Canadian—a bit of financial jiggery-pokery to save a bit of dough on its tax returns. The residents of our southern neighbour are none too pleased, but I have a solution for these economic patriots. A back-of-the-embossed-envelope calculation shows Burger King would have saved some $1.61 million in income taxes last year if it had been domiciled in Canada. So to keep the King American—a delicious irony given the small-R republicans swore off monarchs altogether 238 years ago—all our Yankee brethren have to do is make up that difference by buying 461,000 extra Whoppers a year. That’s a small bite of the 700 million greasy treats the company sells annually.

Finally, we can be sure of our place in the world: Canada is worth just under half a million Whoppers.

Got a management concern? Need to settle a debate? Ask CB’s resident expert in expertise, McArdle: @AskMcArdle