The Tax Foundation released its first global stat called the “International Tax Competitiveness Index”. This index aims to measure two criteria, competitiveness and neutrality, by examining “the extent to which a country’s tax system adheres to”, these “two important principles of tax policy”.
The index accounted for more than 40 tax positions and policies. In their analysis, two of the most damning reasons for ranking the United States near the very bottom of the list include the highest corporate tax rate (39%), as well as the “rare demand that money earned overseas should be taxed as if it were earned domestically”. As such, the United States outranked out only Portugal and France and was placed 32 out 34 industrialized nations.
The concept of “competitiveness” is described as one that “limits the taxation of businesses and investment”. The Tax Foundation acknowledges that heavy taxation runs the risk of the flight of capital and business location. This is turn drives “investment elsewhere, leading to slower economic growth.” We are seeing this is the growing popularity of business inversions, which is driving President Obama and Sen. Chuck Schumer to create punitive legislation on business that wish to leave. Ironically, if they are successful, the WSJ notes, ” the U.S. could fall to dead last on next year’s ranking. Now there’s a second-term legacy project for the President.”
Not only are corporate taxes the highest on this list of 34 countries, it is pretty much the highest in the entire world:
The accounting firm KPMG maintains a corporate tax table that includes more than 130 countries and only one has a higher overall corporate tax rate than the U.S. The United Arab Emirates’ 55% rate is an exception, however, because it usually applies only to foreign oil companies.
The other major concept besides competitiveness that shaped the overall index rankings is the concept of “neutrality”. Neutrality is characterized as “a tax code that seeks to raise the most revenue with the fewest economic distortions. This means that it doesn’t favor consumption over saving, as happens with capital gains and dividends taxes, estate taxes, and high progressive income taxes. This also means no targeted tax breaks for businesses for specific business activities.” These various forms of taxation, as well as the massive crony capitalism enterprises widely seen in the United States, are found to “misallocate capital and reduce economic growth”. This factored heavily into the low ranking that the United States received.
The United States is falling behind around the world:
“Liberals argue that U.S. tax rates don’t need to come down because they are already well below the level when Ronald Reagan came into office. But unlike the U.S., the world hasn’t stood still. Reagan’s tax-cutting example ignited a worldwide revolution that has seen waves of corporate tax-rate reductions. The U.S. last reduced the top marginal corporate income tax rate in 1986. But the Tax Foundation reports that other countries have reduced “the OECD average corporate tax rate from 47.5 percent in the early 1980s to around 25 percent today.”
This new index ranking should be a wake-up call and a springboard for discussion about much-needed tax reform. Our tax code is byzantine, our businesses are over-taxed, and our economy is continuing to suffer. Our reputation should not be, “At least we beat France!” We can do better. We have done better. We deserve better.