In Biden’s newly proposed "Made in America" tax plan, aimed at altering the corporate tax structure in order to pay for his $2 trillion infrastructure package, the administration asserts that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act "created new offshoring incentives." The president has also signaled that the tax bill moved jobs overseas while on the campaign trail.
"[Former President Donald Trump’s] 2017 tax bill slashed taxes on companies that sent production and jobs overseas," Biden said during a September speech. "Those corporations then make huge profits by shipping these foreign-made products back to the United States to sell to American consumers."
Proponents of the GOP tax cuts note the legislation encouraged corporations not to offshore — that is, moving production and jobs overseas — and altogether ended corporate "inversions," when a U.S. multinational company merges with a smaller company in a low-tax country to establish residency there and reap the benefits of the lower tax rates without significantly changing its operations in the U.S.
William McBride, vice president of federal tax and economic policy with the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank that generally supports lower tax rates, said that his organization spent time trying to find evidence that the Trump tax law contributed to offshoring but came up empty-handed.
In the years prior to the Trump tax cuts, corporate inversions were a common occurrence, with dozens of companies merging with foreign associates in order to pay lower taxes.
McBride highlighted that the 2017 tax cuts effectively ended inversions because the U.S. corporate tax rate, which sat at 35% since the early 1990s, was slashed to 21% by the tax bill.
"It ended inversions as far as we can tell," the tax expert revealed to the Washington Examiner. "It wasn’t a small effect, it completely ended inversions. There have been no inversions that we are aware of since the law was changed."
McBride told reporters that the centerpiece of the TCJA, lowering the corporate tax rate, was "really the main factor driving the tax cost of producing in the U.S. versus somewhere else."
"So the whole centerpiece of the tax law was reducing the cost of producing in the U.S., so it would be very strange to find that the effect was the opposite," McBride said. "In fact, there is no evidence to that effect."
Sen. Pat Toomey, the ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee and a major proponent of the Trump tax cuts, also pointed to the 21% corporate tax rate in highlighting the effect that the TCJA had on inversions.
Biden’s tax proposal is facing opposition among Republicans and some in the business community. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable have both come out with statements saying that while they support infrastructure investment, they oppose the administration’s plans to raise the corporate tax rate.