WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration on Wednesday proposed a plan to revamp the corporate tax system, slashing the top tax rate to 28 percent, while eliminating many tax loopholes that companies rely on to cut their taxes.
Among other changes, the proposal seeks to curb oil and gas company tax breaks while expanding deductions for manufacturers.
Major business groups largely applauded the lower corporate rate, but criticized the plan for focusing solely on corporate taxes.
Many businesses - such as law firm partners and investment managers - file through the individual side of the tax code, and Obama wants to raise the top rates on high earners.
At least one group representing small businesses applauded the plan for creating a more “level playing field” with larger rivals.
Unions and liberal groups said the plan doesn’t go far enough in asking corporate America to pay its fair share.
Here is a snapshot of reactions to the proposal:
U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue:
“It’s appropriate for the White House to acknowledge that the corporate tax code stifles economic growth, undermines the competitiveness of U.S. firms, and needs reform.”
However, he said, “We will be forced to vigorously oppose pay-fors that pit one industry against another or lavish favors on some while punishing others.”
Small Business Majority President John Arensmeyer:
“The president’s framework for reforming the tax code will eliminate dozens of loopholes that consistently leave small businesses paying an unfair share of taxes. It will also simplify the tax filing process for small business owners, whose valuable time needs to be spent building their business.”
National Retail Federation President Matthew Shay:
Called the proposal a “positive first step,” but criticized the creation of new tax benefits favoring select industries.
“Tax reform is a once-in-a-generation opportunity and we need to get it right. Reform needs to address small businesses as well as corporations, and needs to be fair to all industries rather than favoring one over another.”
Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association Vice President Kenneth Bentsen:
“The president’s proposal is partially undermined by a number of proposed tax increases, such as the proposal to create a new global minimum tax for American companies.”
American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard:
“It is the tired old policies of the past that discriminate against the oil and gas industry. Let’s do corporate tax reform, bring the corporate rate down and treat everybody consistently and in a balanced way - don’t pick winners and losers.”
Richard Trumka, president of union umbrella group AFL-CIO:
“The Obama administration’s proposal to reform the corporate tax code takes a number of steps in the right direction, but should have asked more from corporate America.”
Bob McIntyre, president of Citizens for Tax Justice, a liberal-leaning tax activist group:
“We can and should collect more tax revenue from corporations. Right now, America’s biggest and most profitable corporations are paying, on average, a ridiculously low amount in federal income taxes, and many of them are paying nothing at all.”
Martin Sullivan, a former Treasury tax official and editor at Tax Analysts:
“The president deserves high grades for a much needed reduction in the corporate rate. And a blanket rule preventing multinationals from parking profits in tax havens is long overdue. But by only suggesting - and not spelling out exactly and endorsing - what other tax breaks could pay for the low rate, he has left the hard part of tax reform undone.”
Michael Mundaca, former top Treasury tax official under Obama, now with accounting firm Ernst and Young:
“A lower rate could benefit U.S. businesses, encourage investment in the United States, and create U.S. jobs. At the same time, because under this framework overseas earnings would continue to be subject to U.S. tax upon repatriation, U.S. multinationals will continue to be concerned about the U.S. tax cost of accessing their earnings overseas and the competitiveness implications of that cost.”
Reporting By Kim Dixon; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Eric Walsh