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Kleinbard on the Flawed Case for a Corporate “Repatriation” Tax Holiday


On a conference call we hosted for journalists recently, Edward Kleinbard, a USC law professor and former staff director for Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation, explained why the proposed tax holiday for overseas corporate profits “repatriated” to the United States would be a serious mistake.

Contrary to claims that corporations are cash-constrained and would significantly boost their domestic investments if they could repatriate foreign earnings at a much lower tax rate, Kleinbard explained:

I find it very difficult to come up with a list of cash-constrained American firms that nonetheless have large offshore pots of unrepatriated earnings.  [Northwestern University law professor] Tom Brennan in his academic analysis of [a similar tax holiday enacted in 2004] concluded that 73 firms accounted for 79 percent of all of the repatriations that came back. . . .  [W]ithout exception, those firms have tremendous financial resources in the United States in the form of cash in the United States and in borrowing capacity at the lowest rates in decades in the capital market.  So a cash-constrained story is a very, very difficult one to actually construct. . . .

Click on the button below for the audio of the presentation portion of the call.

 Download as mp3

Click here for the Center’s new report on this issue, which explains why a repatriation holiday would cost tens of billions of dollars in federal revenue.  Click here for our report explaining why the first holiday failed to produce the promised economic benefits and a second one would create even bigger problems.