UPDATE 1-Obama says looking for ways to cut corporate taxes

Mon Oct 4, 2010 4:23pm EDT

Related Topics

* Top corporate income tax rate is 35 percent

* Sticking point: how to fund a cut (Adds quotes, context)

WASHINGTON Oct 4 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Monday he was very interested in finding ways to lower U.S. corporate taxes without costing the government money.

At a top marginal rate of 35 percent, corporate income taxes in the United States are among the highest in the world, and big business often complains that it hampers their competitiveness.

Many groups, including Democrats, support lowering the rates, but the sticking point has always been how to pay for it.

"We would be very interested in finding ways to lower the corporate tax rate so that companies that are operating overseas can operate effectively and aren't put at a competitive disadvantage," Obama said at a meeting of his economic advisory council. "We'd like to do so and figure out a way to do it that is revenue neutral."

Democrats in Congress proposed dropping the top corporate income tax rate to near 30 percent several years ago, but the proposal floundered because it was coupled with a tightening of the tax code for multinational companies to fund the cut.

General Electric Co (GE.N) Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt and Caterpillar Inc (CAT.N) Chairman Jim Owens attended the meeting.

Obama has proposed many of those same ideas in his annual budgets.

"If there are ideas whereby we can lower corporate tax rates in a way that does not massively add to our deficit, but instead revolves around tax loopholes ... that is something that we would be very interested in and we think could eliminate uncertainty," Obama said.

Obama's tax advisors and many tax experts say that because of deductions, credits and loopholes in the tax code, few corporations actually pay the full 35 percent.

The federal deficit commission, which includes 18 members appointed by Obama and Republicans and Democrats in Congress, is expected to propose changes to the tax code by Dec. 1. (Reporting by Kim Dixon, Matt Spetalnick and Ross Colvin; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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