Cutting Corporate Tax Rates

A significant drop in the headline rate for corporations has been proposed, but the tax corporations ultimately pay will depend on the corporate tax base. April 21, 2017
President Trump’s proposals and the Blueprint both propose large cuts in the federal corporate tax rate. Under President Trump’s proposal (available here), the corporate rate would drop to 15 percent, and under the Blueprint, that rate would drop to 20 percent. Advocates argue that a lower corporate tax rate would significantly lower the incentives for U.S. corporations to “invert” and move earnings and operations offshore, particularly when a lower tax rate is combined with a territorial system of international taxation (as proposed in the Blueprint, see entry here). However, it should be noted that the headline rate at which corporations will be taxed is only one factor in the tax cost of the proposals, and as much time should be focused on the measure of taxable income or the tax base for corporations. It should also  be noted, however, that if the DBCFT is adopted, it would be equivalent to a corporate income tax of zero percent (coupled with a VAT-like tax of 20 percent). Helpful articles explaining the general economic effects of lowering corporate tax rates include this article by the Tax Foundation and this paper published by the Federal Reserve Board.