In the waning days of the congressional term, a lawmaker has introduced legislation that would offer a reduced tax rate of 8.75 percent on corporate profits repatriated from abroad and use the money to pay for infrastructure improvements.
Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., introduced the Infrastructure and Global Tax Competitiveness Act, which aims to finance the Highway Trust Fund for six years, create an American Infrastructure Fund and make the U.S.’s international tax laws more competitive.
According to Delaney’s office, the legislation would create jobs, discourage corporate inversions and spur economic growth. It builds on an earlier bill that Delaney introduced last year, the Partnership to Build America Act, which attracted wide bipartisan support from 39 Republican and 37 Democratic co-sponsors in the House and 15 co-sponsors in the Senate from different parties.
While the legislation is not likely to make headway before the congressional term ends this month, Delaney is looking ahead to next year. “As we head into a new year and a new Congress, it is essential that we keep infrastructure and tax reform at the top of our agenda,” he said in a statement Friday. “The Infrastructure and Global Tax Competitiveness Act creates millions of jobs, brings pro-growth reforms to our broken tax code and helps build the 21st century infrastructure system that my constituents and Americans from coast to coast need. A large bipartisan coalition has rallied behind the Partnership to Build America Act and we’ve proven that there is strong bipartisan support for tying international tax reform to new investments in infrastructure. The rising threat of corporate inversions, the looming insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund, and the daily problems caused by inadequate infrastructure all mean that we shouldn’t delay. It’s time for a new solution.”
The new legislation would use repatriated tax revenue from multinational companies to increase infrastructure investment by imposing a mandatory deemed repatriation tax on corporate earnings currently held overseas. The money would fund a six-year reauthorization of the Highway Trust Fund at increased levels and capitalize a new resource known as the American Infrastructure Fund.
State and local governments would be able to receive financing from the AIF for transportation, water, energy, education and communications projects. The Infrastructure and Global Tax Competitiveness Act would also create an 18-month deadline for comprehensive or international tax reform.
Under the legislation, if no international tax reform bill were enacted into law, a fallback option that ends tax deferral by multinational corporations would be triggered but at greatly reduced tax rates. The fallback reform establish new lower rates on international earnings, eliminating the lock-out effect that discourages repatriation and allowing for the free flow of profits back to the U.S. On active-market foreign income, a company would pay a 12.25 percent tax to the U.S. if it earns its money in a zero-tax jurisdiction, but there would be only a 2 percent tax in the U.S. if the company is already paying 25 percent abroad, with a sliding scale in between, in order to reduce a multinational company’s incentive to invert.
In addition, the bill would establish a commission to create permanent solvency for the Highway Trust Fund. The Highway Trust Fund faces an annual shortfall of $15 billion to $18 billion due to outdated funding stream levels and technological and demographic changes. The bill would purportedly provide six years of solvency to provide more certainty to the private sector and policymakers. To create even longer-term certainty and stability, the Infrastructure and Global Tax Competitiveness Act would establish a bipartisan commission with members from both the House and Senate tasked with researching and proposing a solution for permanent solvency of the Highway Trust Fund.
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