February 22, 2012

Corporate Tax Plan: The Good...The Bad...The Ugly

Jason J. Fichtner

Former Senior Research Fellow
Summary

The Good:
The President’s plan appears to address the root cause of the problem: the corporate tax rate needs to be lowered, some tax loopholes need to be eliminated, and the base needs to be broadened.

The Bad:
Most Americans don't consider the negative effects an uncompetitive corporate tax code has on the middle class. The U.S. corporate tax code does not discriminate against rich and poor. It robs everyone of potential wealth. By setting a minimum corporate tax on domestic companies operating abroad, the pressure for companies to move their business off-shore will only increase, and the incentives dwindle for businesses to incorporate in the U.S. Corporations respond by paying workers less, charging customers more and paying stockholders less –which drives down retirement savings.

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The Good:
The President’s plan appears to address the root cause of the problem: the corporate tax rate needs to be lowered, some tax loopholes need to be eliminated, and the base needs to be broadened.

The Bad:
Most Americans don't consider the negative effects an uncompetitive corporate tax code has on the middle class. The U.S. corporate tax code does not discriminate against rich and poor. It robs everyone of potential wealth. By setting a minimum corporate tax on domestic companies operating abroad, the pressure for companies to move their business off-shore will only increase, and the incentives dwindle for businesses to incorporate in the U.S. Corporations respond by paying workers less, charging customers more and paying stockholders less –which drives down retirement savings.

The Ugly:
Most developed countries are both reducing their corporate tax rates and restructuring their corporate tax systems to make them simpler. The president’s plan may reduce the rates, but it still double-taxes companies that have firms abroad, like Procter and Gamble or Nike. This means that consumers will still pay higher prices for these companies’ products and we’re no closer to real corporate tax reform that levels the playing field with our international competitors. If you do not believe global competitiveness affects the U.S., consider this: In 1960, the U.S. had 17 of the 20 largest firms in the global economy. Today, we have just six.

More on Corporate Tax Reform

"Is Obama's Corporate Tax Plan a Good Idea?"
Nick Tuszynski | US News Debate Club

"Half-Baked Corporate-Tax Reform"
Veronique de Rugy | National Review Online

"How Corporate Tax Reform Affects Individuals"
Antony Davies | Mercatus Commentary

"Why the United States Needs to Restructure the Corporate Income Tax"
Jason Fichtner and Nick Tuszynski | Mercatus Working Paper

"Increasing America's Competitiveness by Lowering the Corporate Tax Rate and Simplifying the Tax Code
Jason Fichtner | Testimony Before the Senate Committee on Finance

"Fixing the Corporate Income Tax"
Mercatus Research Summary

"Reform Our Corporate Tax Code"
Nick Tuszynski | The Washington Times

"Obama's Budget Blind Spot"
David Primo | Los Angeles Times

"Corporate Income Tax Rates in the OECD"
Veronique de Rugy | Mercatus Chart

"How Punishing Is the Corporate Income Tax?"
Veronique de Rugy | National Review Online 

"Effective Corporate Rate"
Antony Davies | Mercatus Chart