Economic Vision Luncheon
Caroline Harris, Chief Tax Counsel and Executive Director of Tax Policy for the United States Chamber of Commerce delivers the
keynote address at the 2011 McLean County Chamber of Commerce Economic Vision Luncheon.
Tax Code Dominates Economic Vision Luncheon
The United States’ corporate tax code took center stage at the McLean County Chamber of Commerce Economic Vision Luncheon held Monday, August 29 at the Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Uptown Normal. Keynote speaker Caroline Harris, Chief Tax Counsel and Executive Director of Tax Policy for the United States Chamber of Commerce gave a Washington insider’s perspective to more than 160 McLean County business and community leaders as she explored the road ahead as it pertains to deficit reduction and tax reform
“We’re number two. Yay,” deadpanned Harris as she delved into issues with the country’s corporate tax rate. “With our combined federal, state and local taxes, we have an average tax rate of 39.2%. We are beaten only by Japan at 39.5%. Japan was going to lower their rate in April of this year, however, the tsunami struck and they needed revenues for rebuilding. Japan has said they will come back next year and re-visit that rate drop so it’s possible we will be number one and here is not a good place to be number one.”
Harris went on to say that most other industrialized nations are reforming their tax codes and dropping their rates in an attempt to attract investment and make it easier for their domestic companies to compete, while the United States has kept the same tax rate for a long period of time believing that the country’s status as a super power will attract and retain business. Unfortunately, said Harris, “I think our tax code is starting to scare people away.” It was her contention that the U. S. needs a simple, pro-growth, pro-job tax code that can raise sufficient tax revenue while providing the U.S. with a level playing field to compete internationally.
Harris also offered her insight on the recent debate over deficit reduction and profiled the members of the new “Super Committee” charged with reducing America’s budget deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next decade. She spoke briefly about each of the twelve committee members and gave her opinion as to which of them might be more supportive of business issues, which would be more apt to walk a hard line and where compromise might come from.
In the end, said Harris, taxes will need to be raised or spending will need to be cut. She encouraged the audience to stay informed and make certain they are heard so that business doesn’t have to shoulder more than its fair share of the deficit burden. “One of the great things that you guys have as a trade association is you can walk in there as the faces of business. So certainly when you go in, tell them who you are. Tell them what you do. Tell them what you add to their community. You guys have a real impact.”
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