In response to the announcement that pharmaceutical firms Pfizer and Allergan would merge, Hillary Clinton released a statement that completely missed the real issue behind these inversions – they are a symptom of the greedy, complex, and inefficient U.S. tax code.
“Inversion is a symptom, not a disease,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “The disease is the United States’ punitive corporate rate and worldwide taxation system. The bottom line is that the driving force behind this merger is the greedy and counterproductive U.S. tax code. If the Obama administration is serious about stopping inversions, as they claim, they should support tax reform that lowers our outdated 35 percent federal corporate income tax rate and ends the double taxation of income earned abroad,” he said.
In her statement, Clinton derided the agreement as a corporate loophole, criticized businesses that use this mechanism, and vowed to soon outline a set of proposals to stop these actions.
If her campaign is serious about stopping corporate inversions, the reforms needed are simple: reduce the federal corporate income tax rate to a level more comparable to the rest of the world, and change the U.S. tax code from the current worldwide system to a standard territorial system.
America is among a handful of countries that has a worldwide tax system, which means that if you are an American business, the IRS tries to tax everything you earn regardless of where you earn it.
Compared to many developed competitors, the U.S. is at a clear disadvantage. The U.K. has a rate of 20 percent, Germany and Canada have rates of 15 percent, and Ireland has a rate of just 12.5 percent. And of those countries, only Ireland tries to double tax income – but its rate is less than one-third the U.S. rate.
It seems likely that her soon to be released proposal will ignore the underlying problem and punish businesses with crushing new regulations and taxes.
Back in June, Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon promised the campaign would rollout several “revenue enhancements.” So far, the campaign has not disappointed. Clinton has proposed the most complicated and byzantine capital gains tax in history, a new $350 billion Alternative Minimum Tax, and a new tax that would harm IRAs. She is also on record supporting a new 25 percent national sales tax on guns.
Inversions are a symptom of a failed tax system. The solution is clear – reduce the business tax rate to a globally competitive rate and end the destructive double taxation of business earnings.