Corporate execs say tax holiday can’t wait

As it stands, legislation in both the House and the Senate would tax repatriated offshore funds at as little as 5.25 percent — or an 85 percent reduction from the top corporate rate of 35 percent.

The U.S. corporate tax rate is among the highest in the world, and American-based corporations owe that rate on profits made all across the globe. The companies do get credits for taxes paid to foreign governments.

The WIN America Campaign, a coalition including many corporate powerhouses, is lobbying hard for those repatriation proposals, and organized Wednesday’s letter, which was signed by executives from Cisco, Duke Energy, Microsoft and Oracle.

Those corporations have long said that a tax holiday could essentially serve as a bridge to a broader revamp of the corporate tax code, which they also support, and that their idea is one of the few ways to encourage domestic investment that has support on both sides of the aisle. Repatriation backers are also hoping the deficit-reducing supercommittee might take up their idea.

“By not pursuing this bipartisan approach in the near-term and instead waiting for comprehensive tax reform to be developed over the next several years, our nation will miss a tremendous opportunity to create jobs and infuse cash into our struggling economy,” Wednesday’s letter from WIN America states.

But the Obama administration and others in the corporate world, like IBM, have said they fear a tax holiday could distract from the broader reform push.

Congressional opponents of repatriation, like Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), have also said that a previous tax holiday, enacted in 2004, did little to boost job creation and that repatriated funds were used more for stock buybacks.

Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has unveiled a draft proposal that would permanently limit U.S. taxation of foreign profits.

Camp has said that, while he does not believe his plan works against the tax holiday push, he also wants a more permanent solution.