4 Key Things To Know As Republicans Prepare To Unveil Their Corporate Tax Reform Plan
– Corporate profits are at record highs, while corporate taxes are at record lows. While the U.S. has a 35 percent corporate tax rate on paper, few corporations actually pay that, due to a proliferation of loopholes, deductions, and the widespread use of tax havens. In 2011, the last year for which data is available, the effective corporate tax rate fell to 12.1 percent, a forty-year low. The corporate tax used to track resonably well with corporate profits, but the two have become decoupled in recent years, with profits shooting up while corporate taxes as a share of the economy plummeted.
– Many of the biggest corporations pay no corporate income tax at all. As Citizens for Tax Justice has found, many of the biggest corporations have effective tax rates near zero. 26 major corporations paid no corporate income tax between 2008 and 2011, while making a collective $205 billion in profits.
– The GOP’s favorite corporate tax idea helps outsource jobs. Republicans love to promote a “territorial” corporate tax system, under which offshore profits made by U.S. companies are never taxed. (Currently, those profits are taxed when they are brought back to the U.S.) The Congressional Budget Office recently reported that such a plan results in “increasing incentives to shift business operations and reported income to countries with lower tax rates.”
– Corporate tax reform should raise revenue. Corporate taxes used to make up about one-third of federal revenue; now it makes up less than 9 percent. The U.S. used to raise about 5 percent of GDP in corporate tax revenue; now it raises below 2 percent. As former White House economist Jared Bernstein noted, “locking in these historically low revenue levels, either as a share of GDP, total receipts, or profits, would be yet another self-inflected wound.”