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.

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 Milton LevinSen. Gillibrand, eyeing 2020 bid, rankles some Democrats The Hill's 12:30 Report Congress needs bipartisanship to fully investigate Russian influence 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 WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOvernight Cybersecurity: DHS cyber nominee vows to make election security 'top priority' | CIA to allow lawmakers to review classified info on Haspel | Dems raise security concerns about Trump's phone use CIA will allow senators to review classified material on Haspel Senators debate new business deduction, debt in tax law hearing 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.