There is an erroneous sentiment perpetuated by the media that our government gives corporate tax breaks for moving jobs overseas, implying that our tax laws favor countries like China and India over the United States. This is simply untrue. Expenses that companies and businesses incur while doing business are rightly deductible (“a tax break”) but no specific tax benefits exist in our tax code for companies who relocate outside of our country.
What you don’t hear in the media, however, is that the real reason jobs are moving overseas is because of terrible business policies here at home. Companies operating abroad can undersell us — not so much because wages and costs are lower, but more importantly because their ability to conduct day to day business is not burdened by a) government at all levels hampering their every move, b) very high tax rates, and c) courts that allow frivolous and anti-business litigation to become a significant cost of doing business. We are part of a global economy now, but the foreign countries are rapidly becoming more user friendly than our own.
We are overburdening our businesses with convoluted tax codes and paperwork. The host of local, state, and federal regulations and taxes becomes a cost of every product we make and every service we sell. Additionally, the costs of our legal system itself — not just the direct costs of dealing with frivolous lawsuits but also the need to defensively organize business records and processes — constitutes a large and growing tax on conducting business.The end result makes it more expensive to produce a job here and many companies must move overseas to a friendlier business environment in order to remain financially solvent.
I have a close relative who is an owner and executive of a substantial manufacturing operation that he started in Shenzhen, China because of its business friendly environment. I’ve heard from him many times that he went into business, not to comply with government regulations, but to make things. The wages he pays and his operating costs are much lower than they would be here in the US, but that is substantially offset by less skilled workers and high transportation costs. But his taxes are much less than what they would be in the US, and his total legal expenses would be at least 50 times higher here. And he has not suffered a single expensive lawsuit since he started business in China 25 years ago! Is there any wonder why China’s economy is thriving while ours is stagnating?
Simply put, due to government interference, if a company is going to lose money here, it is going to leave. The real reason for jobs moving overseas is that higher taxes, expensive and complex regulations, and stifling legal environment have rendered the United States less globally competitive. Without major changes, we are destined to become a declining force in the business world.