Corporate tax executives cited management of the effective tax rate and taxation of international operations as their top two business tax concerns in 2009, according to a new survey.

The United States currently has the second-highest statutory corporate tax rate, a significant concern for domestic-based businesses competing with foreign competitors. However, while respondents overwhelmingly believe that there is a need for a comprehensive overhaul of the current tax structure, less than 2 percent believe that it is likely in the coming year.

While the statutory corporate tax rate is comparatively high in the U.S., businesses typically take advantage of various tax breaks to reduce their effective tax rate. Many companies are also expected to declare a loss this year due to the recession, which will leave them owing no taxes.

In January, the law firm Miller & Chevalier distributed the survey via e-mail to corporate tax executives at large U.S.-based and foreign-based multinational corporations and major trade associations; 178 respondents completed the survey.

Ninety-five percent of the respondents think economic stimulus will be a tax policy priority of the Obama administration, while 71 percent think middle-class tax cuts will be a priority and 31 percent think energy legislation will be a priority.

The respondents overwhelmingly believe that there is a need for a comprehensive overhaul of the current tax structure, but only 2 percent think such reform is likely in the coming year.

The tax legislation that respondents believe is most likely to be enacted this year includes economic stimulus legislation (97 percent), a one-year Alternative Minimum Tax patch (72 percent) and a one-year “tax extenders” package (62 percent). The Senate has already added the one-year AMT patch to its version of the economic stimulus bill.

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