Tag: domestic investment

Investment Flows and Corporate Taxes

The Obama administration is showing interest in reforming the U.S. corporate income tax. That’s good news because a lower corporate rate would boost domestic investment, which in turn would generate more jobs and higher wages and incomes.

A lower corporate rate would also attract more inflows of direct investment from abroad—foreign-based businesses expanding their plants and building new plants in the United States.

I updated this chart from our book, Global Tax Revolution. It shows that during the 1980s, the United States enjoyed higher inflows of foreign direct investment (FDI) than outflows. But since then, the pattern has reversed—our companies are now investing more abroad than foreign-based companies are investing in the United States. (Data is from the BEA).

There are numerous factors that affect these flows, but there is no doubt that taxation plays an important role. If we cut our corporate tax rate, we would attract more investment (move the black bar upwards), which would be good for the U.S. economy.

There is an important caveat with the data, however. A large portion of FDI involves mergers and acquisitions. If a foreign company takes over a U.S. company, that’s an investment inflow. If such a takeover is a market-driven event that increases efficiency, that’s fine with me. However, there is evidence that foreign companies are taking over U.S. companies because we have anti-competitive “worldwide” corporate tax rules.

So the solution is to move to a “territorial” corporate tax system and substantially reduce the federal corporate tax rate. That way, we wouldn’t artificially encourage the takeover of U.S. firms, while also attracting larger inflows of job-generating greenfield investments.

A final note on the chart: it clearly shows that U.S. international investment has exploded in magnitude over the last couple of decades. That explosion has greatly increased the importance of having a competitive corporate tax code. So good for the Obama administration for looking into possible reforms.

High-Tech Companies Warn White House about Tax Hike

As I warned in my “deferral” video, the president’s proposal to increase the tax burden on U.S. companies competing in global markets is horribly misguided. The White House has now been put on notice by high-tech executives that they will be compelled to move jobs out of America if this destructive policy is adopted.

Bloomberg reports:

Microsoft Corp. Chief Executive Officer Steven Ballmer said the world’s largest software company would move some employees offshore if Congress enacts President Barack Obama’s plans to impose higher taxes on U.S. companies’ foreign profits. “It makes U.S. jobs more expensive,” Ballmer said in an interview. “We’re better off taking lots of people and moving them out of the U.S. as opposed to keeping them inside the U.S.” 

…Ballmer is one of 10 U.S. software company executives pushing back against the tax proposals in meetings today with White House officials including Jason Furman, deputy director of the National Economic Council, and the heads of congressional committees such as House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, a New York Democrat. …In a roundtable discussion today, Ballmer, Symantec Corp. Chairman John Thompson and the heads of smaller companies such as privately held Bentley Systems, an Exton, Pennsylvania-based maker of engineering software, said such policies would hurt domestic investment, reduce shareholder value and increase the cost of employing U.S. workers. …Ballmer said…fiduciary responsibility to shareholders would require Microsoft to cut costs, he said, meaning many jobs would be moved out of the country.