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With a move to a territorial tax system a key Republican proposal for tax reform, the Tax Foundation has warned that lawmakers need to carefully consider how such a system would work for the United States.
The nonpartisan tax policy think tank said that there is broad agreement that the current system used in the US, a worldwide tax system, is broken. This system subjects resident corporations to corporate tax of 35 percent regardless of the location of those earnings. Foreign earnings are not taxed until repatriated to the US, but this discourages companies from doing so and they build up profits outside the US.
The Tax Foundation said that a territorial tax system, if not well-designed, could be complex and could easily be subject to base erosion.
It released a paper analyzing 35 OECD countries' territorial tax systems, noting three features: "participation exemptions," which exclude foreign subsidiaries from domestic tax, "controlled foreign corporation (CFC) rules," which bring certain foreign companies' profits within domestic tax, and rules that limit interest deductions. The Tax Foundation said that US lawmakers would need to balance exempting foreign businesses from domestic taxation, protecting the domestic tax base, and creating simple rules.
"It is really only possible to accomplish two of these goals at the same time," said the Tax Foundation. "US lawmakers will need to balance these competing goals if they decide to enact a territorial tax system."
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