Supercommittee Republican to revive tax reform plan

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Currently, the U.S. taxes all income from U.S.-based corporations, including money earned abroad. The Portman proposal would change this so that the U.S. only taxes income earned inside the U.S. He said this change should unlock profits that corporation are keeping abroad in order to avoid a tax penalty upon repatriation.

The rate cut would be paid for by eliminating tax breaks.

“We have an estimate from the JCT showing you can do it in a way that does not add to the deficit,” Portman said. 

The details of the JCT score for the Portman proposal have not been released. JCT, responding to a request from House Ways and Means Democrats, found that eliminating a wide range of corporate tax breaks would pay to reduce the rate to only 28 percent.

Portman’s office said that the senator will be introducing the bill after Jan. 1.

The senator said that Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who also served on the supercommittee, was "interested" in corporate tax reform, but he declined to say whether Baucus supported the reform proposal behind closed doors.

He said that there is a chance for reform to succeed even though the supercommittee failed because Congress will have to deal with the expiration of the Bush-era tax rates and patch the Alternative Minimum Tax by the end of next year, and that this should provoke a "conversation" about wider tax policy. 

Portman said that the supercommittee, which announced last Monday that it would be unable to agree on any cuts to the deficit despite three months of efforts, has generated interesting ideas for future cuts. He told the audience he supports bringing the proposal of the president's fiscal commission to a vote in the Senate but that getting the Bowles-Simpson proposal into legislative language would be difficult.

The supercommittee was unable to get the Congressional Budget Office to score parts of it such as a proposal to sell off federal property, he noted. 

—Bernie Becker contributed.