Tax Reform Coming, But Not Until 2017

Business tax executives are expecting reform after the presidential election, and one-quarter want the U.S. to move to a territorial system.
Katie Kuehner-HebertMarch 20, 2015
Tax Reform Coming, But Not Until 2017

While tax executives last year were hopeful that a Republican-controlled House and Senate would finally lead to federal corporate tax reform, this year they believe President Obama would veto any legislative attempts, according to the 2015 Tax Policy Forecast Survey.

In the survey, released by Miller & Chevalier Chartered and the National Foreign Trade Council, nearly half (49%) of the respondents expect that tax reform will be enacted, but not until 2017 — after the next presidential election. Tax executives say they believe the most important issue on the table is the United States’ high statutory tax rates.

“The business community tells us that the high U.S. statutory tax rates are a major drag on international competitiveness relative to foreign-based businesses, and serve as a signature barrier to the U.S. as an investment location,” Miller & Chevalier member Marc Gerson, former majority tax counsel to the House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means, said.

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More than one-quarter (28%) of respondents say their top concern is whether policymakers will seek to enact revenue offsets without adoption of a competitive tax system and competitive tax rates.

“Their concern surrounding revenue offsets appears well-founded in light of the large number of revenue offsets that have been proposed in the context of tax reform proposals, as well as the number of new revenue offset proposals in President Obama’s fiscal year 2016 budget plan,” according to the survey report.

“Additionally, in an increase of almost 10% from last year, nearly a quarter of respondents have told us that taxation of international operations is their [greatest] U.S. concern in 2015.”

Twenty-six percent of respondents say “replacing the worldwide system of taxing international operations with a territorial system” was the most important issue to address through tax reform, second to lowering the statutory rate. Thirty-six percent of respondents expect the top statutory corporate rate to fall to 28% as part of a tax reform package.

The survey, conducted by email, was filled out by 146 business tax executives, including vice presidents, directors, and managers of tax, working at a cross-section of U.S.-based and foreign-based multinational companies.