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Businesses Government Novell SuSE The Almighty Buck News

New Global Plan Would Crack Down On Corporate Tax Avoidance 324

HughPickens.com writes: Reuters reports that plans for a major rewriting of international tax rules have been unveiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that could eliminate structures that have allowed companies like Google and Amazon to shave billions of dollars off their tax bills. For more than 50 years, the OECD's work on international taxation has been focused on ensuring companies are not taxed twice on the same profits (and thereby hampering trade and limit global growth). But companies have been using such treaties to ensure profits are not taxed anywhere. A Reuters investigation last year found that three quarters of the 50 biggest U.S. technology companies channeled revenues from European sales into low tax jurisdictions like Ireland and Switzerland, rather than reporting them nationally.

For example, search giant Google takes advantage of tax treaties to channel more than $8 billion in untaxed profits out of Europe and Asia each year and into a subsidiary that is tax resident in Bermuda, which has no income tax. "We are putting an end to double non-taxation," says OECD head of tax Pascal Saint-Amans.For the recommendations to actually become binding, countries will have to encode them in their domestic laws or amend their bilateral tax treaties. Even if they do pass, these changes are likely 5-10 years away from going into effect.
Speaking of international corporate business: U.K. mainframe company Micro Focus announced it will buy Attachmate, which includes Novell and SUSE.
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New Global Plan Would Crack Down On Corporate Tax Avoidance

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  • General forms of taxes are legalized theft anyway. When the government just takes money away for their "general bucket", it is nothing more than stealing.

    Instead, tax-per-use: road tax, school tax, environmental tax, so the tax-payer knows what happens to their money.

    If governments would be more transparent, less people would have problems paying taxes.
    • by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2014 @02:42PM (#47920043) Homepage
      Put down the Ayn Rand, and step away slowly.
      • by magarity ( 164372 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2014 @04:08PM (#47920991)

        The gp didn't say not to tax anything - it IS a good idea that taxpayers realize the taxes they pay. Payroll taxes hide a tremendous amount of taxation that most people have no idea they're paying.

    • You know, you can actually do a FOIA and request a lot of that information at a county, state, or even federal level.

      Individual program taxes will never happen, though, because in the US the biggest suck on our tax dollars is the Pentagon and the military, and a lot of people like me would be happy to opt out of that. I would not, however, opt out of SS and Medicare/Medicaid, since I'm supposed to (in theory) get that money returned when I need it the most.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Please tell the truth.

        Link [nationalpriorities.org] 2015 proposed
        Military is 16%, SS is 33% (double military by itself), Medicare is 27% also more than military.

        Link [washingtonpost.com] 2014 actual
        SS is $866 Billion, military is $627 Billion, Medicare is $531 Billion.

        Also note SS is mandatory 100%, while military is discretionary 100%.

      • by WoodstockJeff ( 568111 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2014 @02:57PM (#47920203) Homepage

        The military is the biggest part of the US budget? Gee.... our government disagrees with that, according to the budget they publish.

        http://www.usgovernmentspendin... [usgovernmentspending.com]

        Total defense spending, 22%. Pensions, 25%. Healthcare 27%.

        And this does NOT include Social Security or Medicare (separate funds, they keep telling us).

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          The debt is mostly from wars that were not paid for.

          It also ignores the 50 percent of military budget that is in the "black budget", as well as the NSA and the other four three letter agencies we don't tell you about.

          • ...as well as the NSA and the other four three letter agencies we don't tell you about.

            ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PBS, MTV, FBI, CIA, IBM, D&D, WoW, LoL.

          • by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2014 @03:27PM (#47920509) Journal

            Why are you being modded down? The wars are almost entirely off budget. Maybe they'll make up for it with asset forfeitures..

            • by WillAffleckUW ( 858324 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2014 @03:43PM (#47920705) Homepage Journal

              Why are you being modded down? The wars are almost entirely off budget. Maybe they'll make up for it with asset forfeitures..

              They can't handle the truth. They believe in fictions written by some old lady who collected social security and received other government subsidies she railed against.

              That's my guess.

              But, yes, the US has an unfortunate tendancy, since the War of Independence, and the Civil War, continued to the present, of always fighting wars off budget. Which is where the budget deficits come from. Social Security pays for itself and has always had a surplus, and still does.

            • The first Budget in Obama's term put the war spending on budget.

              They were off budget during Bush's terms but one of the first acts Obama did with a democrat congress was to put them on budget.

              http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02... [nytimes.com]

              Now, people may think "good, we need to account for that money anyways" but the fact is they were always accounted for in the end. The problem with this is the rules of congress say you have to pay for new spending. With the wars off budget, when congress decided to do something new or

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          The VA is filed under healthcare, but it's properly part of the military budget. Officer pensions are included under pensions, but they are properly part of the military budget. We wouldn't have to pay for the VA if we didn't have injured soldiers, and we wouldn't be paying officers pensions if we had a smaller military. Much of the national debt is military expenses from wars we didn't properly fund (we're still paying off the first gulf war and Reagan era cold war expenses, as well as the more recent stuf

    • These types of agreements, if put in place, will be most useful when countries want to further raise their corporate taxes.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 16, 2014 @02:47PM (#47920107)

      Ah, the stupidity and naivete of what you say is staggering.

      You people who believe you'd run a functioning society without taxes and the things it pays for are completely deluded.

      You would not end up in some libertarian fantasy of a self regulating society. You'd end up in a shit hole of a society in which things like roads and schools don't work and don't get funded.

      Blah blah blah. Everything you say is pure fantasy, and doesn't mean anything other than your overly romanticized notions of a world which never was, and which never could be.

      I swear, Libertarians (and the idiots who read Ayn Rand) are some of the most deluded people around, second only to religious people who reject science because the facts contradict their stupid book.

      If you think a modern society is possible without taxes and some things being paid for by society, you really are a drooling idiot.

      • by Richy_T ( 111409 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2014 @04:13PM (#47921059) Homepage

        You'd end up in a shit hole of a society in which things like roads and schools don't work and don't get funded.

        So about the same but with less taxes then?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I'll give it a go.

        You people who believe you'd run a functioning society without taxes and the things it pays for are completely deluded.

        In a taxless society, there would be no one to run it other than those with wisdom and experience. But they wouldn't "run" the society as we understand it today.

        You would not end up in some libertarian fantasy of a self regulating society. You'd end up in a shit hole of a society in which things like roads and schools don't work and don't get funded.

        Again, I think you're missing the point. Roads? Why would there be this need for roads? If you walk through the forest a path will naturally develop. And schools? Why would we need schools? Do parents get paid to teach their kids now? I mean, in this taxless society that we're talking about, the need for a lot of things that

    • Obvious counterpoint to your ideological statement: without taxes all theft is legalized.

      The construction of a an idea of theft exists as an artifact of a social system. To pretend that something is "yours" without a legal delineation of ownership is silly.

      Obvious counterpoint to your pragmatic statement: details of budgets need to change more rapidly than taxes.

      Additionally, combining surpluses and deficits from different programs minimizes overhead.

    • by clovis ( 4684 )

      General forms of taxes are legalized theft anyway. When the government just takes money away for their "general bucket", it is nothing more than stealing.

      Once in a while it is time to go pedantic.
      Words have meanings. We can string words together without regard to their meanings, and create an aphorism that sounds good, but it leads to logical incorrectness and a misunderstanding of how things work. It would be better if you were just gibbering.

      Taxation is not theft. The two words describe different circumstances and processes. The outcome may be the same (your stuff is gone), but they are two different words with different meanings.

      • Once in a while it is time to go pedantic.
        Words have meanings. We can string words together without regard to their meanings, and create an aphorism that sounds good, but it leads to logical incorrectness and a misunderstanding of how things work. It would be better if you were just gibbering.

      • by sabri ( 584428 )

        Taxation is not theft.

        Well, the dictionary [reference.com] disagrees with your:

        to take (the property of another or others) without permission or right, especially secretly or by force

        The government is taking my property without my permission, and it gives itself the right to do so. The government partially does it secretly, and if I don't comply I will go to jail.

        But you took my words out of context. I am talking about "general forms of tax". For example income tax, sales tax and all taxes that have no specific purpose. Buy an airline ticket? You pay security tax. Fine, fair and square. I choose to buy an airplane ticket and the government has

        • by clovis ( 4684 )

          The link is to the word "steal", but because theft is the act or result of stealing, we should go with "steal"
          steal:

          to take (the property of another or others) without permission or right, especially secretly or by force

          See the part about "without permission or right". It's "without permission" and "the right" part (among other things) that makes taxation and theft two different things.

          • by sabri ( 584428 )

            It's "without permission" and "the right" part (among other things) that makes taxation and theft two different things.

            See, this is the interesting part. I think we'll both agree that the permission part depends on me giving permission, so we won't need to discuss that. The next part is more difficult.

            I have a two year old. We're weaning her off the pacifier, but occasionally, she manages to slip into her bedroom and finds a pacifier. When we ask her who gave her the pacifier, the reply is "I gave it to myself!".

            The government is doing the same thing. It's the government that grants itself permission to take away my pro

    • by k6mfw ( 1182893 )
      It seems very wealthy have become very good at gaming the system. Watching the PBS program "The Roosevelts" it mentioned of the time when very wealthy controlled almost all commerce and markets. Then there was everyone else that got "Morganized" with lower wages and grueling work hours with almost no chance to get ahead, i.e. whatever earnings made had to be spent at company store. Teddy Roosevelt broke this trend with "big government" and these guys JP Morgan, Rockefeller, etc. said TR doesn't have that po
  • by realilskater ( 76030 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2014 @02:37PM (#47919997)

    Why tack on the Micro Focus news? That is news all on its own and only remotely related to this topic.

  • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2014 @02:43PM (#47920055)
    There are other ways to generate more tax revenue from business operations in the US: quit making elsewhere so much more attractive. The US has the second highest effective business tax burden in the world (second only to the United Arab Emerates, which mostly taxes foreign oil operations). Gee, I wonder why businesses born in the US look to mitigate that in whatever ways the law allows. If the law no longer allows it, there will simply be more companies actually moving, entirely, to places with a lower burden. Then the government will still miss the revenue, and they'll miss all the tax revenue they're already getting on the income taxes levied on and other economic activity generated by all of the company's current domestic employees, partners, vendors, service providers, etc.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 16, 2014 @03:02PM (#47920255)

      "The US has the second highest effective business tax burden in the world"
      Wrong. The U.S. has the second highest nominal business tax rate in the world, around 35%, but thanks to loopholes and other tax breaks no business pays that rate, instead it is less than 15%.

      "I wonder why businesses born in the US look to mitigate that in whatever ways the law allows"
      Wonder no more, businesses _everywhere_ reduce costs of all kinds in whatever legal ways possible including offshoring revenue and relocating headquarters. This is far from unique to the U.S. except that our laws accomodate offshoring/relocating more than a lot of other countries.

      "there will simply be more companies actually moving, entirely, to places with a lower burden"
      Bullshit. Companies will not simply drop out of the biggest market in the world just because they don't want to pay any tax at all.
      They will still get rich, just not as rich as they might have otherwise.

    • I think that a fair way to approach taxation for multinational corporations would be to tax the revenue/profits earned in each tax jurisdiction according to that jurisdiction's rules. Instead of the concept of a jurisdiction providing services to enable corporate operations, view it as the jurisdiction providing consumers to corporations. That way, profits Apple earns from consumers within California are taxed the same way even if Apple moved all of its operations to Ireland. However, to avoid the huge bur
  • by Lawrence_Bird ( 67278 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2014 @02:43PM (#47920057) Homepage

    the tax thieves aak "regulators" make new rules. Why not put some thought into changing the tax codes to be on a par wtih Ireland, Switzerland, etc instead of trying to preserve the high tax state?

    • In this competition the involved countries will only lose.

  • Perspective (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mfwitten ( 1906728 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2014 @02:49PM (#47920123)

    A company has to convince people to hand over their resources.

    A government just decrees its income under threat of violence.

    • Not really. A government just "deccrees" it's income as a responsibility of doing business within it's borders. Unless you're talking about 3rd world dictatorships or warlords, Violence has nothing to do with it.

    • Dice didn't get its corporate charter out of a McDonalds Happy Meal. Those papers were issued by a government. Therefore, all corporations are creatures of the state, and tainted by the state's monopoly on the "legitimate" use of violence.
  • double non-taxation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2014 @02:51PM (#47920147)

    For those that were unaware, this is my explanation (it should be mostly correct)

    double non-taxation, otherwise known as a "Double Irish"
    It takes advantage of weakness in Irish law that allows companies to not pay taxes on subsidiaries that are outside Ireland.
    So a large multinational corporation, located the United States, needs to subsidiaries for this to work.
    They open one subsidiary in Ireland.
    They open a second subsidiary in a low, or no tax country like Bermuda.
    The Irish company owns the Bermuda company.
    The Bermuda company owns the US Companies IP rights for outside the US.
    The Bermuda company licenses those rights to the Irish company.
    The Licensing fees the Irish company pays to the Bermuda company are as close to 100% of the profits the Irish company makes as possible. Everything over that amount gets changed at the Irish corporate rate of 12.4%
    The profits all get transferred to the Bermuda subsidiary where there are no corporate taxes. So they avoid all taxes on that money and other governments can't come after them because there are treaties between most countries that prevent them from charging a company based in a different partner country for taxes. This is to prevent situations where you'd pay taxes in both countries for the same money. Bermuda isn't a part of those treaties but Ireland is. So this loophole in Irish law is upending the entire Global tax system.

    • by alexander_686 ( 957440 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2014 @03:14PM (#47920359)

      You are way off on this.

      First,

      It takes advantage of weakness in Irish law that allows companies to not pay taxes on subsidiaries that are outside Ireland.

      IIRC, the US, Ethopia, and Eritrea are the only countries that charge taxes on foreign subsidiaries, so it is not a weakness exculsive to Ireland. And if you think about it, it is rational not to tax the foreign subsidiary. If a profit is earned in country X, country X shoudl get the tax. If not you get the complex and ineffectual of the US.

      Second, what you are talking about about abusive transfer payments, not about the "Double Irish", which this treaty is trying to fix. Ireland is not some great "loop hole", just low taxes. And by "Double Irish" I think you really mean the "Double Dutch", which requires a Irish and Dutch subsidary - they recognize income differently. This is, since they have different standards on when to declare income from whom they can structure income so it is never recognized by the tax authority. That is a true loop hole.

    • by RatherBeAnonymous ( 1812866 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2014 @03:37PM (#47920631)

      There is an easier way to sum up the "Double Irish".

      Ireland taxes companies based on where they are managed, but the US taxes companies based on where they realize profits and loses (as do most countries). A US company will set up an Irish subsidiary but manage it from the US, or anywhere else outside of Ireland, then transfer it's intellectual property to the subsidiary, who licenses use of said IP back to the parent company. The parent company realizes no profits in the US after paying licensing fees to the Irish subsidiary, so the US collects no taxes. The subsidiary is managed from a foreign company, so Ireland collects no taxes. That's it in a nutshell.

      There are further complications where a second Irish subsidiary will be formed plus a Bermuda based shell company, but those are just for dotting the i's and crossing the t's. A further trick can be used with a Dutch company, aka. a "Dutch Sandwich", to minimize taxes even more.

      • I guess I over complicated it by simplifying it? lol... anyways, yes, what you're saying is what I meant to get across. My goal was to clarify how this works to whomever may stumble across it, and figured I'd have errors that replies like yours would correct. Thanks!

  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2014 @02:54PM (#47920175) Homepage
    Simply pass two laws:

    1) If a country is owned by more than 50% by citizens of X country, then it must pay taxes on all it's profits of the entire world, under Country X's laws.

    2) (This one I really like) If a company is not incorporated and paying the majority of it's taxes within a country, than it can not under any circumstance: A) lobby in that country, or in any way attempt to affect legislation or rules of that country B) nor can it t make any political - monetarily or directly - on any political subject for the 8 months preceding any primary or general election.

    • So, any serious multinational can have the stock distributed enough to get past your first law....

      As to your second, at least in the USA, you're going to be blocked by the First Amendment to some extent. After all, "lobbying" is done by people no matter where the money comes from. As is "political activity".

      IN other words, you need to think the problem through a little more carefully...

      By the by, are you aware that if Google (for example) were paying ZERO taxes in the USA now, and the laws were change

      • No, I thought everything I said through. You ignored reality and substituted rather bad fiction about what the law is.

        Large corporations are owned by these things called shareholders. It takes a LOT of work to make a company so multi-national that it's stock will not be 50% held by one country.

        Secondly my law is NOT blocked by the first amendment, unless you are claiming that the US first amendment applies to non-citizens? Because I hate to tell you it doesn't work that way. The 1938 Foreign Agents Re

  • relevant article (Score:3, Informative)

    by tacokill ( 531275 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2014 @02:58PM (#47920211)
    I'll just leave this [wsj.com] right here. Seems relevant before we get more stupid than we already are.
    • by GlennC ( 96879 )

      Of what use is a paywalled article?

  • by WillAffleckUW ( 858324 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2014 @03:02PM (#47920257) Homepage Journal

    About time this happened.

    Next up: removing tax exemptions and tax exclusions for corporations.

    Corporations aren't People.

    People pay taxes and go to jail.

    • Corporations can do whatever they can to show no profit, and therefore, no taxes.

      If rich people were to try to make enough charitable contributions or whatever other deductions to drop their taxes to zero, they'd still get hit with the Alternative Minimum Tax. (those with a low enough income can still get away with this)

      Why don't we have an AMT for companies? A sort of 'if you're making over a billion dollars in gross receipts, you still have to pay the U.S. 10%' or simply 'then these deductions aren't a

  • The sad fact is they'll do anything to protect their bottom line, so they'll just pass the extra cost on to their customers, who in many cases will not have any choice but to pay more for whatever they're getting. Then the corps will blame the government for it's 'corruption' as the reason their prices are so much higher now, and lobby for 'reform'. Or somesuch scenario.
    • Ideally, that's a good thing because it just opens up opportunities for smaller competitors to offer the same service at a cheaper price, either because they have less overhead or have figured out a more efficient way of doing it. For industries that are near-monopolies, that's what happens.

      The main problem is that the big companies know this, and so they are quick to purchase any upstart competitors, to keep actual competition from thriving. THAT is a problem that needs to be dealt with.

    • Maybe that's what needs to happen. Maybe our iPods and iPads SHOULD cost us a little bit more. In competition to lower prices, companies have moved manufacturing jobs overseas. We've become a society of consumers, we hardly produce any of the things we consume. Maybe if our "things" cost a little bit more money, there'd be more incentive to build things here and bring jobs back.
    • they'll just pass the extra cost on to their customers

      If that is true, then the taxes won't cut into profits, so the businesses won't raise any objections to the taxes. Is that what you're predicting?

      • If that is true, then the taxes won't cut into profits, so the businesses won't raise any objections to the taxes.

        Of course they will, if they're competing with companies that operate elsewhere with a 15% lower tax rate.

    • But there will also be more competition since rivals with enough scruples to not engage in tax evasion now have a more level playing field.
    • I don't think that you understand capitalism. The companies that will be affected (and indeed, every for-profit company, everywhere) already charge the most money that they can. I know some customers would theoretically pay more for any given item, but each company charges as much as possible for its products, regardless of its costs. If I own a company that makes a widget for $80 and can sell it for $100, I'll do that. I won't sell it for less because it would still be profitable. On the other hand, if my
  • by PseudoCoder ( 1642383 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2014 @03:19PM (#47920417)

    Fundamental question with what should be a simple answer. We pursue enterprise to benefit ourselves and profit. Not to serve as revenue generator to the state. The state is supposed to serve the people; not the other way around, but we keep coming around and forgetting the lessons of history and the basic nature of man.

    If the state were not exceeding its mandate to serve the people, taxes would be acceptable and nobody would put that much effort into avoiding them because their result would continue to appeal to our interests. But there's never enough money for the state to be all the things it is promising to be, so the states are inventing structures for self-preservation of systems fundamentally doomed to fail.

    • Fundamental question with what should be a simple answer. We pursue enterprise to benefit ourselves and profit. Not to serve as revenue generator to the state. The state is supposed to serve the people; not the other way around, but we keep coming around and forgetting the lessons of history and the basic nature of man.

      If the state were not exceeding its mandate to serve the people, taxes would be acceptable and nobody would put that much effort into avoiding them because their result would continue to appeal to our interests. But there's never enough money for the state to be all the things it is promising to be, so the states are inventing structures for self-preservation of systems fundamentally doomed to fail.

      Fine we implement your libertarian paradise and taxes drop drastically.

      You've done nothing to fix this problem because you misunderstood it.

      Corporations don't avoid taxes because they're too high, they do it because it's profitable. Corporations compete by competing at the margins, if a competitor in your libertarian paradise goes from a very low tax rate to a slightly lower tax rate then you'll have to follow otherwise you'll be at a competitive disadvantage. If you are a libertarian this shouldn't be a su

    • In highly competitive markets the competition will eventually force you to use every tax avoidance trick that your competitors use in order for you to stay in business, unless the corporate tax rate is something negligible.

      One solution would be to not have a corporate tax and instead try to go after the owners themselves with capital gains taxes and inheritance taxes and what not.

  • by DrPeper ( 249585 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2014 @03:23PM (#47920465)

    The companies involved also PAY for the campaigns and prostitutes for the "elected" officials. So this supposed "crack down" will never happen. In point of fact these tax dodges were created by and endorsed by said "elected" officials.

    • This is exactly right. The US government could close this loophole, "crack down" on corporate tax avoidance, without any global cooperation. All they need to do is pass the law, and Obama can sign it.

      The OECD has no power to change anything here, so instead they did something they have power to accomplish: they wrote a report. Bravo.
  • So now where are corporations going to get their Dutch Sandwiches [dilbert.com]?
  • Stuff that's made in China and sold at Walmart would be taxed differently? I'll believe it when I see Chinese manufacturers paying the US 35% tax rate.
  • If the US, the most developed country in the world, with all its advantages of a functioning economy, education system, infrastructure, mineral and agricultural wealth, moderate climate and fundamental rights, cannot compete with the rest, things have come to a sad pass. The America war cry goes up "It's not fair!" and the kind of corporate shenanigans we deplore are now to be deployed on a global scale - protecting a doddering and clueless incumbent from the nimble upstarts, to the detriment of the common

    • Certain country's tax codes are upending the world trade structure.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D... [wikipedia.org]
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D... [wikipedia.org]

      The way things should work: profits made in a country are taxed in that country.
      The way things should not work: a company doing business abroad pays taxes both at home and abroad.
      The way things break: subsidiary company makes "no profit" (no tax) because it pays hefty license fees (100% net income) to my headquarters company in Ireland. Ireland does not tax licensed technolog

      • It reminds me of the car dealers complaining about Tesla selling their cars directly to motorists. It reminds me of taxi drivers complaining about Uber. It reminds me of AT&T complaining about Netflix.

        A bit of upending is clearly needed.

  • How do you "crack down on" people following the rules and doing exactly what is best for them, paying the least amount of taxes?

  • Corporations do not pay taxes. They simply pass along the money from consumers to the government. Got it?

    Raise the taxes for XYZ, Inc. and the price of their goods or services will go up accordingly.
    • Corporations do not pay taxes. They simply pass along the money from consumers to the government.

      Yes they do and no they don't.

      See here. [slashdot.org]

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