Offshore tax bill could raise $19.5 billion

Legislation to permanently limit corporations’ ability to lower their tax bills by shifting their address abroad would raise roughly $19.5 billion over a decade, according to a new estimate.

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The Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’s nonpartisan scorekeeper, added that a two-year moratorium on the practice known as inversion would raise $791 million.

Sen. Carl LevinCarl LevinPresident Trump, listen to candidate Trump and keep Volcker Rule Republicans can learn from John McCain’s heroism Trump and GOP wise to keep tax reform and infrastructure separate MORE (D-Mich.) and Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) are leading the charge against the practice, after Pfizer’s high-profile bid to take over AstraZeneca.

Both bills from the Levin brothers seek to build on proposals from President Obama to make it more difficult for companies to reap the tax benefits by changing their address.

Rep. Levin’s measure would permanently limit inversions, while his brother’s measure installs a two-year moratorium to allow lawmakers further time to more broadly revamp the tax code.

Under both measures, a corporation that merged with an offshore counterpart would still be taxed as American unless the foreign business’s shareholders still owned more than 50 percent of the company after the merger. The cut-off under current law is 80 percent.

The Treasury Department has estimated that Obama’s proposal on inversions would raise around $17 billion over a decade.

The bills from the Levin brothers face serious obstacles to getting passed in Congress.

Senate Finance Chairman Ron WydenRon WydenTrump's Democratic tax dilemma Senate Dems push Trump admin to protect nursing home residents' right to sue Overnight Finance: Trump-Russia probe reportedly expands to possible financial crimes | Cruel September looms for GOP | Senate clears financial nominees | Mulvaney reverses on debt ceiling MORE (D-Ore.) has also expressed an interest in limiting inversions, but wants any solution to be part of tax reform.

Republicans have generally said that it won’t be possible to truly solve the problem without a rewrite of the tax code.

Lobbyists have insisted that they don’t expect the push from Wyden and the Levin brothers to scare corporations away from seeking inversions.