As the UTPR is a new concept, it is worth explaining what it is and why Rep. Smith cares about it. In a sentence, the Undertaxed Profits Rule (UTPR) is a looming extraterritorial enforcement mechanism for a tax base the U.S. has not adopted.
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President Biden’s new budget proposal outlines several major tax increases targeted at businesses and high-income individuals that would bring U.S. income tax rates far out of step with international norms.
Unless lawmakers act, 2022 will be the first of several years that the U.S. tax system automatically changes for the worse.
Academic research indicates foreign direct investment (FDI) is highly responsive to the corporate effective tax rate (ETRs); that is, the tax rate after accounting for all deduction and credits available to corporations.
Overall, the data shows outbound FDI shifted from low-tax to other jurisdictions, while inbound FDI remained largely unchanged.
In general, the effective tax rates on the foreign profits of U.S. multinationals are not that low relative to the U.S. tax rate, contrary to popular rhetoric.
Congressional lawmakers are putting together a reconciliation bill to enact much of President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda. Many lawmakers including Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR), however, want to make their own mark on the legislation.
The proposed restructuring of the GILTI and FDII regimes makes several changes to the tax base that are largely offsetting, leaving virtually all the revenue potential to be determined by the tax rates on GILTI and FDII and the haircuts on foreign tax credits. Lawmakers should carefully weigh the trade-offs between higher tax revenues and competitiveness.
There are many ways the U.S.’s international tax rules could be changed, reformed, improved, or worsened. Reflexively jacking up taxes on U.S. multinationals does not necessarily accomplish the goal of reducing or eliminating profit shifting, and it would in fact worsen it.
Changes to international tax rules are likely on the way, and it is therefore important for lawmakers to understand how various reform options would impact U.S. tax burdens on multinational companies. Moreover, policymakers should also recognize the need for prudent policies that do not put U.S.-based multinationals at a competitive disadvantage or severely curtail investment and hiring.