America Needs Tax Reform - But Also More Incentives to Invest

February 26, 2014

WASHINGTON (Feb. 26, 2014) - In response to the release of a draft of comprehensive tax reform legislation by Congressman Dave Camp, Chair of the House Ways and Mean Committee, Robert Atkinson, President of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), issues the following statement.

"ITIF commends Chairman Camp for his leadership on tax reform and his efforts to lower the corporate tax rate, but the effort should not be revenue neutral or come at the expense of pro-growth tax incentives and needs to be paid for with higher tax rates for individuals.

When looking at the impact of taxes on competitiveness and economic growth it is most important to lower not just the statutory corporate tax rate, but the effective rate as well; the one that companies actually face when deciding whether to invest in the United States or in other nations. This cannot be done if tax reform is paid for by reducing important tax incentives such as the deduction for U.S. production activities, accelerated depreciation of equipment, and, especially, the R&D tax credit. Each of these provisions lowers the cost of making investments that are pivotal to spurring productivity, innovation and competitiveness. In fact, as ITIF argued in a debate today, the R&D credit, which the proposal finally makes permanent, in particular, increases jobs and economic growth and the U.S. risks falling further behind our global competitors if we do not expand the credit. Unfortunately, by eliminating companies' ability to expense R&D costs, the proposal would raise the effective tax on research activities, putting us even further behind our competitors.

Some of the revenues lost to lower effective corporate rates can be recouped from faster economic growth, but additional revenue should come from raising taxes on individuals. Among the areas in the tax code Congress should consider reforming are a reduction in the deduction for mortgage interest, elimination of the exclusion for employer-paid health care, and higher taxes on capital gains and dividends. Each of these provisions primarily benefits higher income Americans without contributing to overall economic growth.

Again, we applaud Chairman Camp for taking on this important issue but argue that for tax reform to be truly successful it most also lower the effective corporate rate, while at the very least maintaining and preferably expanding key investment incentives."

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The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) is a non-profit, non-partisan think tank whose mission is to formulate and promote public policies to advance technological innovation and productivity internationally, in Washington, and in the states. Recognizing the vital role of technology in ensuring prosperity, ITIF focuses on innovation, productivity, and digital economy issues. Learn more at www.itif.org.

Contact: Samantha Greene
Email: sgreene@itif.org
Phone: (202) 626 5744