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Statement on Final Passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

By: Scott Hodge

Congress today took a historic step toward rewriting the U.S. taxA tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities. code for the first time since 1986. Our Taxes and Growth model shows that this legislation over the next decade will boost GDP by 1.7 percent and wages by 1.5 percent, while creating 339,000 additional jobs.

For far too long, the U.S. has lagged behind its trading partners with an extremely high corporate tax rate and a worldwide tax systemA worldwide tax system for corporations, as opposed to a territorial tax system, includes foreign-earned income in the domestic tax base. As part of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), the United States shifted from worldwide taxation towards territorial taxation. . Now the U.S. will have a much more competitive corporate rate at 21 percent, as well as a territorial tax systemA territorial tax system for corporations, as opposed to a worldwide tax system, excludes profits multinational companies earn in foreign countries from their domestic tax base. As part of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), the United States shifted from worldwide taxation towards territorial taxation. that only taxes businesses on income earned domestically. Businesses no longer will be discouraged from reinvesting their profits in America.

Admittedly, the bill isn’t perfect and represents a balance among political compromises, fiscal constraints, and pro-growth policies. The special tax treatment of pass-through businessA pass-through business is a sole proprietorship, partnership, or S corporation that is not subject to the corporate income tax; instead, this business reports its income on the individual income tax returns of the owners and is taxed at individual income tax rates. es could lead to costly, time-consuming tax planning opportunities and disputes. Full expensingFull expensing allows businesses to immediately deduct the full cost of certain investments in new or improved technology, equipment, or buildings. It alleviates a bias in the tax code and incentivizes companies to invest more, which, in the long run, raises worker productivity, boosts wages, and creates more jobs. —potentially the most pro-growth tax policy lawmakers could adopt—is only made temporary, which means the growth effects will be somewhat muted. And shifting to a territorial tax system, while important, will involve difficult decisions about base erosion rules that will require careful analysis to prevent any unintended consequences.

Nevertheless, it is encouraging to see Congress work through the very difficult, challenging process of reforming the tax code and producing an end product that makes important progress. We at the Tax Foundation have worked hard to educate federal and state lawmakers about the trade-offs involved and will continue to do so throughout implementation of the bill.