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The Treasury chief said it would cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent, the highest in the industrialized world, to 15 percent for all businesses. White House aides said the top individual tax rate of 39.6 percent would be trimmed by a few percentage points.
Mnuchin said the Trump administration hopes to simplify an annual rite in the U.S. when citizens file their tax returns in the early months of each year to account for the taxes they owe based on the income they earned the previous year.
Mnuchin said the “objective is simplifying personal taxes. For most Americans, we think they should be able to do their taxes on a large postcard,” instead of the voluminous pages of forms many taxpayers now face.
Congress is expected to closely scrutinize Trump’s plan to sharply cut corporate taxes, which some analysts say could over the next decade add $2 trillion to the nearly $20 trillion in long-term debt the U.S. has already amassed.
Some Republicans have expressed concerns the Trump plan does not call for adding any new revenue-producing measures that would offset the lost revenue with the tax cuts.
During his campaign for the White House, Trump attacked his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, for massive annual deficit spending that added to the national debt, but now seems unconcerned about it. Mnuchin told reporters this week that “tax reform will pay for itself with economic growth” that would boost tax revenues, a proposition that many economists reject.
Congress is likely to debate the Trump plan for months, but Trump gained one quick ally for the coming legislative fight over U.S. tax policy. The leader of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, Speaker Paul Ryan, voiced support for much of the president’s proposal.
“We like it a lot, it puts us on the same page, we’re in agreement on 80 percent, and on the 20 percent we’re in the same ballpark,” said Ryan.
Mnuchin said the corporate tax cuts are aimed at sparking sustained 3 percent economic growth in the U.S., a figure well above last year’s tepid 1.6-percent advance. The U.S. has not recorded 3 percent annual growth since 2005, even as it recovered from the depths of the steep recession in 2008 and 2009.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Tuesday the U.S. has been “uncompetitive” against other countries in attracting new businesses, “largely because of our rates.”
U.S. lawmakers have for years vowed to adopt broad tax reforms, but the efforts have foundered amid competing demands to eliminate tax breaks for some corporate and individual interests and raise taxes on others. Many of Trump’s Republican colleagues in Congress have their own ideas on how the labyrinth U.S. tax code ought to be reshaped.
Tax experts say the 35 percent U.S. corporate tax rate is the highest among the world’s 35 industrialized nations, although U.S. corporations rarely pay that much because they are permitted to deduct their business expenses from their revenues before. A number of profitable companies pay no U.S. income taxes.
When the 35-percent rate is added to the average state corporate tax rate, the figure reaches 38.9 percent, which ranks third in the world among 188 countries surveyed by the Washington-based Tax Foundation. The U.S. figure trails only that of the United Arab Emirates at 55 percent and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico at 39 percent.