Republicans heart Irish tax rates

REPUBLICANS HEART IRISH TAX RATES…. While pushing back against the economic stimulus plan, Republicans have, of course, been demanding more tax cuts. But what kind of tax cuts are we talking about? Republican Policy Committee Chairman John Ensign, the fourth-ranking Republican in the chamber, argued yesterday:

“You know, we have the second highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world. Microsoft, which is a great American company, has zero exports from the United States. They have a lot of exports from Ireland, because, guess what, Ireland has a 12.5 percent corporate tax rate; we have a 35 percent corporate tax rate.”

Are we back to this again? John McCain relied on this talking point quite a bit last year. In the first presidential debate, the Republican nominee said: “Right now, the United States of American business pays the second-highest business taxes in the world, 35 percent. Ireland pays 11 percent. Now, if you’re a business person, and you can locate any place in the world, then, obviously, if you go to the country where it’s 11 percent tax versus 35 percent, you’re going to be able to create jobs, increase your business, make more investment, et cetera.”

I’d hoped we were past this, but so long as congressional Republicans want to re-litigate this as part of the stimulus debate, we might as well set the record straight. Igor Volsky explained that the Republican argument is “full of so many other holes, you can drain spaghetti with it.”

* America’s Effective Tax Rate Is Comparable To Other G7 Nations: According to a recent U.S. Treasury report, the effective tax rate on equipment financed by equity is 24 percent, the same as the G-7 average. The rate on equipment financed by debt is minus 46 percent, meaning that the government actually subsidizes these investments rather than taxing them.

* America Is The Number One Country To Do Business: The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report for 2007-2008 concluded that the United States is most business friendly, followed by Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Finland and Singapore. Ireland came in at number 22.

* Two-Thirds Of Corporations Did Not Pay Taxes: According to last month’s Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, between 1998 and 2005 “about two-thirds of corporations operating in the United States did not pay taxes” because of a variety of corporate tax loopholes.

* US Raises Less Taxes From Corporations Than Ireland: In the United States, corporate revenues as a percentage of GDP was about 2.2 percent; Ireland raised close to 4 percent.

Yglesias added a while back, “Ireland really could be a model for successful reform in the United States; reform that would be aimed at growing the tax base by closing loopholes and, in exchange, lowering the rate. That would, if calibrated correctly, both boost economic growth and efficiency somewhat and also increase tax revenues. But a simple across-the-board rate cut would accomplish nothing of the sort.”

Someone really ought to let the GOP caucus know about this. I’m sure they’ll want to update their talking points.