Corporate Tax Rate Driving American Companies Overseas

Time was when the United States was No. 1 in numerous economic categories.

Unfortunately, we have traded our swagger in indicators that make us stronger for a tax code that makes us weaker: American companies face the highest statutory corporate income tax rate in the world — 39.1 percent.

According to the Tax Foundation, this overall rate of 39.1 percent is a combination of the 35 percent federal rate plus the average rate levied by U.S. states.

This puts the United States at a major competitive disadvantage in global trade.

“Corporations headquartered in the 33 other industrialized countries that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), however, face an average rate of 25 percent,” the Tax Foundation notes.

“Even corporations in high-tax European countries such as Belgium (34 percent), France (34.4 percent) and Sweden (22 percent) face much lower rates than those in the United States. Our largest trading partners — Canada, Japan and the United Kingdom — have each cut their corporate tax rates over the past few years to become more competitive.”

In fact, according to OECD data, the United States has been among the least tax-competitive countries for capital investment during the past nine years.

Our government, which continues to be obsessed with raising taxes even further, believes the solution is to make the case that the Canadian effective tax rate is actually higher. Most economists disagree, but suggesting that we only have the second-highest global tax rate doesn’t help the owners of American companies sleep any better at night.

It’s like before they won the World Series in 2004, the Boston Red Sox kept reminding fans that despite the “Curse of the Bambino,” the Chicago Cubs owned the longest streak of not winning the World Series.

We all know by now that when American companies go offshore, they export American jobs.

What is more insidious, according to The Wall Street Journal, is that U.S. corporations hold more than $2 trillion in unremitted foreign earnings, a substantial portion of which is in cash.

Since they can’t bring this money back to the United States where it can be reinvested to boost our economy and create jobs, it sits in foreign banks. So the United States gets very little in tax revenue, and U.S. shareholders lose out on earnings.

But there’s some good news. According to Michelle Hanlon, an accounting professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, writes in The Journal that Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., wants to pass a bill that would “treat a foreign-based company resulting from a merger with an American company as a U.S. taxpayer unless headquarters are located overseas and the U.S. company was the smaller entity.”

That’s a good start to incentivize more funds sitting idle overseas to be transferred back to the United States; but it doesn’t address the millions of jobs that are being outsourced.

The solution is to lower the corporate tax rates for all American businesses. This would give them the money they need to hire and re-invest in our economy.

The American tax system is broken.

In 1986, President Reagan signed sweeping bipartisan tax reform that dramatically reduced the top individual income tax rate from 50 percent to 28 percent while giving families a large tax cut. It not only worked, it didn’t add to the deficit. As a result, the American economy entered an extended period of growth and prosperity.

If you expect this bold thinking from the Obama administration or from the Democrats, you’re in for a long wait.

As long as this administration continues to expand government handouts and strangle the free market, our horrendous tax structure will deprive American companies from reinvesting their money to grow and create jobs.

If we were to design our tax system as a competitive advantage, U.S. companies would start coming home and bring with them their capital, investments and jobs.

There are 7 million Americans who have given up looking for work. We owe it to them and to their families to create an environment where American businesses can succeed. It is the only way to provide hope where presently there is none.

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