Nobody Likes Paying Too Much; Tax Crackdown Could Deepen Our Economic Woes

Article excerpt

Byline: Richard W. Rahn, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Other things being equal, would you start a new business in a higher- or lower-tax jurisdiction, and would you prefer to live and invest in a higher- or lower-tax locale? This is not a tough question for most people, but the powers in Washington (the administration and the congressional Democratic leaders) are incensed that the American people are answering the question in a most politically incorrect way by opting out of high-tax places.

Last week, the Treasury announced a whole series of proposed new laws and very complex regulations to prevent both American businesses and individual citizens from investing where they wish. (So much for the promise to simplify the tax code.)

These proposed measures are supposed to make it more difficult and expensive for American businesses to operate in foreign countries and for American citizens to move their financial assets to lower-tax jurisdictions (all in the name of getting more tax revenue). Oh yes, who is in charge of this crackdown on you evil tax avoiders? Why none other than Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and House Ways and Means (tax-writing) Committee Chairman Charles B. Rangel - both of whom have received some fame for their own tax problems.

If a U.S. business operating globally has to pay a 35 percent (U.S.) corporate tax rate (the second-highest in the world) plus state corporate taxes while its international competitors pay much lower rates, the U.S. company will be at a competitive disadvantage. Rather than provide necessary tax relief, the new Treasury proposals, if enacted, will give American multinational companies two basic choices for the long run - move the company outside the United States to a more tax-friendly jurisdiction, or go out of business and fire the workers.

It will come as no surprise that many of the officials and members of Congress who are behind this piece of economic foolishness come from high-tax states such as New York, Illinois, Michigan and California and seem to be oblivious to the fact that many of their most productive and highly paid residents are in flight to states with no personal income tax, such as Texas, Florida, Tennessee and Nevada.

You may not be aware that foreign citizens who invest in stocks and bonds in the United States do not have to pay U.S. income tax on the interest, dividends and capital gains from those investments. This is good economic policy for the United States because it attracts necessary foreign investment. Without foreign investment, the United States would have far less capital to invest in research and development, new plants and equipment, and job creation; also, the government would have a much more difficult time financing the federal deficit. …