Monday, June 20, 2011

A Tax Break for the “Job Creators” That Will Not Increase Jobs

David Kocieniewski should get high marks for excellent reporting. He starts by noting a supply-side proposal and its rhetoric:

Some of the nation’s largest corporations have amassed vast profits outside the country and are pressing Congress and the Obama administration for a tax break to bring the money home … Under the proposal, known as a repatriation holiday, the federal income tax owed on such profits returned to the United States would fall to 5.25 percent for one year, from 35 percent. In the short term, the measure could generate tens of billions in tax revenues as companies transfer money that would otherwise remain abroad, and it could help ease the huge budget deficit. Corporations and their lobbyists say the tax break could resuscitate the gasping recovery by inducing multinational corporations to inject $1 trillion or more into the economy, and they promoted the proposal as “the next stimulus” at a conference last Wednesday in Washington. “For every billion dollars that we invest, that creates 15,000 to 20,000 jobs either directly or indirectly,” Jim Rogers, the chief of Duke Energy, said at the conference. Duke has $1.3 billion in profits overseas.

If you are thinking we tried this a few years ago, David reminds us that we did:

But that’s not how it worked last time. Congress and the Bush administration offered companies a similar tax incentive, in 2005, in hopes of spurring domestic hiring and investment, and 800 took advantage. Though the tax break lured them into bringing $312 billion back to the United States, 92 percent of that money was returned to shareholders in the form of dividends and stock

David cites this analysis:

Repatriations did not lead to an increase in domestic investment, employment or R&D -- even for the firms that lobbied for the tax holiday stating these intentions and for firms that appeared to be financially constrained. Instead, a $1 increase in repatriations was associated with an increase of almost $1 in payouts to shareholders. These results suggest that the domestic operations of U.S. multinationals were not financially constrained and that these firms were reasonably well-governed. The results have important implications for understanding the impact of U.S. corporate tax policy on multinational firms.

If all of the repatriated earnings go to dividend payments and none to new investments, then no jobs get created - even if the “job creators” get this tax break!


Cameron Mulder said...

How about we do the repatriation holiday but at the same time raise taxes on people getting dividends?

I know it won't happen, but that does sound like a win-win

TMMblog said...

Jobs are created by demand, who would have though it?

Brenda Rosser said...

"a tax break to bring the money home...inducing multinational corporations to inject $1 trillion or more into the economy"

Well, if an injection of money creates jobs then why not simply print it?

I wonder if national governments will eventually come up with some sort of criteria to define what an 'enterprise' is? That act in itself could save a few trillion dollars in bailouts.

I've got a few ideas on what doesn't constitute an entrepreneurial venture. Let's see:

* generating nuclear energy in an earthquake zone;
* woodchipping the guts out of native forests using incredibly efficient bulldozers that reap a greater and greater quantity of slivers of dead trees with fewer and fewer workers;
* Business as finance fraud;
* Aerial spraying known biotoxins that induce the plant kingdom's version of AIDS....

Whew! This could be a long, long list.