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In the relationship between government and business, no issue is more fundamental, impactful, or important to get right than taxation. It’s one of government’s oldest responsibilities and one of business’ biggest expenses. Taxes are a critical factor in most major decisions a company makes—including whether to expand, hire new workers, or invest in new technologies. Unfortunately, America has one of the most burdensome tax systems in the world. That is why we must seize this once-in-a-generation opportunity to overhaul our tax code in a way that promotes dynamic economic growth.
It won’t be easy. The process of overhauling our tax code is as complicated as the tax code itself. The last time it was successfully done was in 1986, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce played an instrumental role in reaching that deal and getting it passed. This time will be no different. The Chamber will be heavily engaged in everything from the technical aspects of reform to the transition rules.
We know that a perfect bill is impossible and many provisions will divide members of the business community, but the Chamber is prepared to champion any final tax reform package that is pro-growth. Most important, we will be at the table throughout the process—because anyone who isn’t at the table risks ending up on the menu. We’ll keep businesses off the menu by focusing on the components of reform that benefit the entire economy.
Pro-growth reform should include lowering tax rates for all businesses and adopting an internationally competitive territorial system—which means no more taxing American businesses twice, once abroad and once here, on their overseas earnings. Next, it needs to eliminate the current bias against investment in the depreciation system, which would encourage businesses to devote more resources to expanding and innovating. Reform should also bring permanency, simplicity, and clarity to the system and allow the marketplace—not the government—to pick winners and losers.
Our leaders have a lot of priorities competing for their attention, and it’s true that many are easier and less controversial than tax reform. But in government—just as in business and in life—the most difficult tasks are often the most worthwhile. No agenda to promote economic growth and benefit every American will be complete without a plan to tackle the long, complicated, and all-important process of overhauling our tax code. We have a rare chance to get it done—and done right.