Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Fleming, Peroni & Shay: Worse Than Exemption

J. Clifton Fleming, Jr. (BYU), Robert J. Peroni (Texas) & Stephen E. Shay (Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Tax Affairs, U.S. Treasury Department) have published Worse Than Exemption, 59 Emory L. J. 79 (2009).  Here is the abstract:

In this article, we discuss how various defects in the current U.S. international tax system - deferral, defective income-sourcing and cost allocation rules, lenient transfer-pricing rules, generous cross-crediting, the export sales source rule, the effectively tax-exempt treatment of many types of foreign-source royalties, and the deduction of foreign losses against U.S.-source income - can be combined to make the present U.S. system as generous as, and in some important respects more generous than, a properly designed exemption or territorial system for taxing foreign-source income of U.S. resident corporations. In other words, when judged from a public policy standpoint, the current U.S. system can produce worse-than-exemption results. Because of this, the U.S. multinational corporate community largely has shifted its lobbying efforts away from support for an exemption or territorial system and toward support for changes in the current incoherent international tax system that would further reduce the effective U.S. income tax rate on U.S. corporations’ foreign-source income by magnifying the worse-than-exemption results. In our view, reform efforts in the international tax area should be directed toward comparing the strengths and weaknesses of a properly designed worldwide system with the strengths and weaknesses of a properly designed exemption system, and then proceeding to enact one of those two coherent systems for taxing the international income of U.S. persons. Based on our prior work in the international tax area we believe that such an analysis will lead to a conclusion that a strengthened and properly designed worldwide system is superior to a properly designed territorial system and is definitely superior to our defective and incoherent current U.S. international tax system.

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