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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Media, the public, election year - obstacles to a lower corporate tax rate?

I was surprised to learn yesterday while making a presentation about the basics of taxes to a general education financial literacy class at SJSU that several students had read or heard the news that GE had paid no taxes. More students knew of that than had ever heard of a use tax!

I think this is interesting in terms of what it might mean for Congressional efforts to lower the corporate tax rate - how will that play in the popular press and among the taxpaying public? Certainly, any rate reduction needs to be done before the individual tax rate cuts expire at the end of 2012. And it likely needs to be done with attention also drawn to the tax breaks corporations will give up for the rate reduction. It might also have to be done with promise of rate cuts for individuals. Will members of Congress and President Obama be leery of how a corporate rate reduction will play in the press during the upcoming election year? What is needed for corporate tax reform to occur?

I was quoted recently in a story (3/29/11) in Emirates 24/7 News. The writer who interviewed me said it was about corporate tax reform, but the headline turned out to be - "GE 'zero' US tax furor reignites calls for reform" - clearly taking advantage of the attention that news would get. I note in the article that if Congress hears from corporations that they do not want to give up any tax credits, deductions, exemptions or other special rules, Congress likely will move on to other reforms. And, President Obama has already noted that reform must be revenue neutral. What do you think?

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