Witnesses testifying Thursday at the latest Senate Finance Committee meeting on tax reform regarding tax treatment of international businesses, found some common ground but also considerable disagreement on the best strategies to employ.
Among other possible policies discussed, switching to a territorial system got a lot of attention, as well as the mention at the end of a value-added tax. But opinion was far from united on a number of points.
Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., opened the meeting with comments that addressed the need of the country to alter its tax structure to best help the economy and the corporations that do business around the world. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, pointed to how tax policy had been structured in the past and how it was no longer adequate to cope with a world in which business has changed so drastically.
Philip R. West, a partner with Steptoe & Johnson LLP, spoke on his own behalf rather than that of his firm, but cited five criteria for evaluating international tax rules: revenue, equity or fairness, economic efficiency, competitiveness, and simplicity. The current tax code does “not score well” when measured against these criteria, he said. West argued that “most tax planning involves shifting income abroad, not shifting jobs abroad.” Moving to a territorial system would not, in his opinion, adversely affect U.S. job creation, but repeal of the current system of tax deferral might.