Japan officially lowered its statutory corporate tax rate today, making the United States the global leader in taxation of business.
The Heritage Foundation explains what this means for the U.S. economy and job creation. From the Foundry Blog, “Morning Bell: Stop Sending Jobs Overseas.”
In 1989 the developed nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) had an average top marginal corporate tax rate well above the U.S.’s 34 percent rate. Since that time the world’s industrialized nations have dropped their average corporate tax rate to about 25 percent. The U.S., meanwhile, has gone in the opposite direction. We now have a 35 percent rate at the federal level that rises to 39 percent once the average of state corporate taxes are mixed in. And today, Japan is scheduled to implement its own corporate rate reduction, which will officially make our 35 percent rate the highest corporate tax rate in the world.
Owning the world’s highest corporate tax rate is a jobs killer. Imagine you are a global corporation looking to invest in a new factory that will produce goods for American consumers. Do you build your factory with hundreds of new manufacturing jobs in Canada, where the top central government tax rate is 16.5 percent? Or do you choose a location in the United States, where the top tax rate is 35 percent? Is that even a choice? Our high corporate tax rates are a huge manufacturing job repellent.
Liberals have long argued that corporate tax cuts are not necessary since the effective corporate tax rate (calculated by dividing the amount businesses pay in taxes by their incomes) is comparable to other OECD countries. But gaming the tax system to reduce your effective tax rate is not free. It requires a substantial investment in tax lawyers and lobbyists for major corporations to get your tax bill down. So again consider a foreign investor or medium-size corporation looking to expand production. Neither of the firms has the tax lawyers and lobbyists needed to lower their effective tax rate. Do they choose low-tax Canada, where they can focus on their core business and pay low taxes? Or do they choose the U.S., which requires significant resources devoted to tax law compliance and lobbyists in Washington to assure a low tax rate? Again, is this even a choice?
The U.S. economy is slowly beginning to finally add jobs to the economy. But so is the rest of the world, and many economies are growing much faster. If we want to stay competitive, if we want to stop sending jobs overseas, we must lower our corporate tax rate.
Yes, Prime Minister Kan is contemplating returning to the higher tax rate in response to the devastation from the earthquake and tsunami, but that’s no strategy for economic or national recovery.
See also James Pethokoukis, Reuters, “No April Fools’ joke, U.S. now world’s highest corporate taxer.” Earlier, The Tax Foundation, “U.S. Corporate Tax Rate Soon to Be #1”