In a letter yesterday to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and House Ways and Means Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) reminded Secretary Lew of the critical need for the Treasury Department to “remain engaged with Congress” on their participation in the on-going Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The Chairmen made clear that “[r]egardless of what Treasury agrees to as part of the BEPS project,” it’s Congress’ job to craft U.S. tax policy. Read More
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) this afternoon sent a strongly worded letter to IRS Commission John Koskinen asking him to “immediately halt” the practice of using private attorneys to carry out taxpayer examinations including taking sworn testimony from taxpayers. In May of 2014, the IRS retained the global litigation firm of Quinn Emanuel on a $2.2 million contract to assist in the income tax audit and investigation of a corporate taxpayer, including the conduct of sworn interviews. Shortly after retaining the firm, Treasury and IRS issued a temporary regulation allowing third party contractors to take compulsory, sworn testimony in connection with an IRS investigation. According to the IRS, the temporary regulation—issued without a notice and comment period—represented a “clarification” of existing law.
The Finance Committee Chairman doesn’t agree with the IRS’ assessment, noting that the temporary regulation represents “an unprecedented expansion of the role of outside contractors in the examination process.” Moreover, according to Senator Hatch, the IRS’ hiring of a private law firm to conduct a taxpayer exam: appears to violate federal law and the express will of Congress; removes taxpayer protections by allowing the performance of inherently governmental functions by private contractors; and calls into question the IRS’s use of its limited resources.
Manufacturers were glad to see House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Chair Peter Roskam (R-IL) today raise serious concerns at a hearing about the IRS’ use of outside law firms to question witnesses under oath in on-going audits and litigation. In conjunction with a hearing on the 2015 tax filing season, the Subcommittee issued a report, “Doing Less with Less: The IRS’s Spending Decisions Harm Taxpayers,” which outlines a number of instances of IRS’ wasteful spending, all at the expense of American taxpayers. One of the worse cases described in the report is IRS’ decision to hire a team of high-priced attorneys to help out with an on-going case, at a cost of $2.1 million. Read More
For a number of years, manufacturers have been calling for an overhaul of our tax system, arguing that a simpler, fairer, more competitive and pro-investment tax system will unleash economic growth and the jobs that go with it. A study we released just last week backs this up.
A Missed Opportunity: the Economic Cost of Delaying Pro-Business Tax Reform, takes a close look at the economic impact of enacting a five-prong pro-business tax package that includes a maximum corporate tax rate of 25 percent; a globally competitive international tax system; full expensing for capital equipment; enhanced and permanent research and development incentives; and parallel changes for non-corporate pass-through businesses. Read More
The NAM continues to believe that recent M&A activity in the international arena strengthens the case for a comprehensive overhaul of the nation’s tax laws and the focus on regulatory fixes or targeted legislation is misplaced. While we will take a close look at the guidance released today by the Treasury department, comprehensive tax reform is essential to unleashing the economic growth we so badly need. The NAM will continue to ensure that Washington doesn’t change the discussion and keeps its focus where it belongs – on pro-growth, pro-competitiveness tax reform.
Dorothy Coleman is the Vice President of Tax and Domestic Economic Policy for the National Association of Manufacturers
Manufacturers in the United States were taken aback this weekend when word leaked out that the senior Senator from New York and long-time member of the Finance Committee –Chuck Schumer (D)—is floating a tax increase proposal that would actually reach back 20 years to discriminate against certain businesses that play a critical role in the U.S. economy. While it appears that the Senator’s goal is to discourage recent M&A activity in the international arena (aka inversions), the proposal would actually discourage important foreign direct investment in the United States and set a dangerous precedent for changing tax rules mid-stream, injecting even more uncertainly in our nation’s shaky tax system.
Specifically, what Sen. Schumer’s proposal would do is significantly limit interest deductions for some non-U.S. domiciled companies that were headquartered in the United States at some point in the past 20 years. In laymen’s terms, this would be similar to limiting the deduction for a homeowner’s mortgage interest depending on where they were born. In both cases, it adds up to discriminatory tax policy. At the same time, adopting this revisionist approach to tax policy would open to door to similar proposals affecting other tax deductions and other groups of tax payers, and promulgating even more uncertainty in our uncertain times.
The proposal from Sen. Schumer seems to disregard the very important role that foreign direct investment plays in the U.S. economy and discriminates against non-U.S.-headquartered companies that play an important role in the U.S. economy. Indeed, U.S. subsidiaries of foreign companies employ more than 2 million U.S. workers, over 17 percent of America’s manufacturing workforce. The ability to deduct interest expense is a critical factor in a company’s decision to invest and create jobs in the United States.
As we’ve noted many times before, the NAM believes that recent M&A activity highlights the critical need for a comprehensive overhaul of the U.S. tax system to reflect the global marketplace of the 21st century. In short, the answer is comprehensive tax reform, not punitive tax treatment of foreign-owned companies.
Dorothy Coleman is the Vice President for Tax and Domestic Economic Policy at the National Association of Manufacturers.
The NAM believes that recent M&A activity in the international arena highlights the critical need for a comprehensive overhaul of the U.S. tax system to reflect the global marketplace of the 21st century. In short, the answer is comprehensive tax reform, not punitive tax treatment of foreign-owned companies or other “on-off” tax changes that have been floating around Washington this summer.
The latest proposal, unveiled yesterday by Senate Finance Committee member Chuck Schumer (D-NY), takes aim at interest deductions by non-U.S. headquartered companies. Unfortunately, Sen. Schumer’s proposal seems to disregard the very important role that foreign direct investment plays in the U.S. economy. Indeed, U.S. subsidiaries of foreign companies employee more than 2 million U.S. workers, over 17 percent of America’s manufacturing workforce The ability to deduct interest expense is a critical factor in a company’s decision to invest and create jobs in the United States
Foreign investment is particularly important in U.S. manufacturing, where one in every seven U.S. manufacturing workers is employed by foreign-owned firms in the United States. These firms contributed $649.3 billion to the economy in 2010, the most recent year with data. Foreign affiliates are major exporters and, in fact, accounted for nearly 18 percent of America’s global exports.
Because of the importance of foreign direct investment to the U.S. economy, it is critical that policymakers avoid imposing discriminatory taxes on foreign-owned companies. Congress should focus on tax policies that attract and maintain more capital investment, rather than discourage it.
You’ve certainly heard manufacturers call for a major overhaul of our nation’s tax code, particularly in light of recent M&A activity in the international arena. In a Washington Post op-ed on August 8, the Senate’s leading GOP taxwriter — Sen. Orrin Hatch from Utah—echoes that call.
In calling for an end to political posturing over the issue, Sen. Hatch concludes “ [T]he real solution would be to create a tax environment more favorable to businesses in this country.”
We agree with Sen. Hatch that the “problem demands much more focus than campaign talking points.” Tax reform won’t be easy but there’s no better time than now to get moving on a 21st century tax system for the United States. Our trading partners have done it and so can we.
Here at the NAM, we’re big proponents of a manufacturing comeback and one of our top priorities is to make the United States the best place in the world to manufacture and attract foreign direct investment. A pro-investment tax climate is key to achieving this goal and manufacturers are all for it.
On the other hand, we are increasingly concerned about “one-off” changes to the current tax code, like the anti-inversion proposals under discussion in Washington that will actually discourage investment in the United States, taking a toll on job creation and economic growth.
In today’s Wall Street Journal, John McKinnon takes a closer look at the potential negative impact of the anti-inversion legislation just on foreign direct investment in Firms Warn Inversion Crackdown Carries Risks. This is a big issue for the manufacturing sector—U.S. subsidiaries of foreign companies employee more than 2 million U.S. workers, over 17 percent of America’s manufacturing workforce. As we’ve said many times before, we don’t need more tinkering with our broken tax code, what our country needs is a pro-growth, pro-competitive, fairer, simpler and predictable tax climate.
There’s no doubt that the U.S. tax code— which includes the developed world’s highest corporate tax rate, outdated international tax rules and a host of temporary provisions—is a drag on economic growth and competitiveness. And while Manufacturers continue to push for comprehensive tax reform, NAM members recognize that, until that happens, we have to operate and compete under the current system. Unfortunately, that reality is being largely ignored in the current rhetoric flying around Washington about corporate inversions.
In today’s Wall Street Journal Miles White, the Chairman and CEO of Abbott Laboratories, sets the record straight on the realities of the U.S. tax system in his oped, Ignoring the Facts on Corporate Inversions, and notes that legislation to block inversions would simply make a bad system worse. We agree strongly with Mr. White that piecemeal proposals to change the tax code will do more harm than good and the real solution is one Manufacturers have been pushing for all along, “fact-based, thoughtful, comprehensive [tax] reform.”