Dustin Howard over at Americans for Limited Government tackles one of the key factors contributing to the rise of corporate inversions: high corporate taxes. I would also argue that another mitigating factor is foreign-earned income, which the United States government lays claim to — and is the only major country to do so. Under U.S. tax law, U.S. companies are forced to pay both foreign- and domestic-earned income, putting them at a global disadvantage.
At any rate, Howard’s piece is a worthwhile read on the equally detrimental effect of high corporate tax rates. I have shared it in its entirety below.
“How should policymakers stop the bleeding of American jobs overseas? There’s one easy answer among many harder ones, and that is to stop making it so expensive to do business in the United States.
Many things price American workers out of competition, whether it be the current mix of trade rules, currency manipulation and other unfair labor practices but the easiest to address domestically is the corporate tax rate. Government’s unwillingness to do with less is making it considerably harder for Americans to even work.
Seriously, why should American corporations pay a 39 percent rate, among the world’s highest, to headquarter here when they can “invert” to Ireland and pay 12.5 percent, less than one third the domestic rate?
If the corporation can keep most of their American workforce and keep 26.5 percent more of their money as an alternative by cutting the corporate tax rate, wouldn’t that a good thing?
Why would the U.S. maintain a policy that discourages business from even being on American soil?
Democrats propose a solution to this phenomenon: punish the innovating refugees that refuse to pay into their racket. They believe in taxing the profits of inverted firms. One problem: extrapolating from a recent study by economist Wayne Winegarden for the Pacific Research Institute, this actually further discourages firms from even retaining their American workforce, and encourages them to simply export their products outright from their new foreign addresses.
Call it a lose-lose proposition, where American workers lose jobs, American businesses leave and revenues drop while the deficit increases; Ireland should chip in and send Democrats a fruit basket.
If taxing inverted companies suddenly sounds unappealing, here’s an alternative: make inversions less attractive as a means of generating profit. The U.S. is a free country, so it looks bad when it punishes corporations for acting in their best interest. Instead, why not lower the tax rate to a more competitive, attractive rate, and then focus rolling back the regulatory state that is literally paid by taxpayers to make businesses less productive?
The first step on this path would be to begin reducing the cost of business with a comprehensive set of tax reforms that clean up our messy corporate tax code, and give businesses a sense of calm when planning for the future.
Besides it’s not like the corporate tax generates that much revenue anyway, at just 10.6 percent of $3.2 trillion of total receipts in 2015, according to the Office of Management and Budget. By far the most revenue comes from individual and payroll taxes.
As things stand, corporations are seeking foreign shores to chart out profitable futures, mainly because the business climate in the U.S. has made itself so volatile that it cannot accomplish that at home. The data supports the notion that punishing corporations that choose foreign domiciles will hurt working Americans more than it will avenge or protect them. The limited government solution is to let individuals choose what works for them, and to tax them at a reasonable rate so they do not move out of necessity.
As stated above, lowering the corporate tax rate is just one part of the solution. America has fundamental problems across the board that put us at a global disadvantage that should also be addressed.
The corporate tax rate is a necessary first step to signal to the world that we are restructuring the policies to make the U.S. more attractive among competitors. Creating jobs in America begins with keeping the economy free and competitive, and that cannot happen without fiscal restraint and limiting government, but also cannot happen if we’re taxing ourselves to the stone age.