The nation's business leaders have pressed Congress for years to embrace a territorial system that would shield profits made abroad from U.S. taxes. They note that most developed nations have moved to that setup, and argue the American system puts them at a disadvantage.
Senate Finance Committee ranking member Orrin HatchOrrin HatchHow to marry housing policy and tax reform for millions of Americans Though flawed, complex Medicaid block grants have fighting chance A guide to the committees: Senate MORE (R-Utah) said he can't understand why the president and Democrats aren't in favor of a territorial system because it would help the sluggish economy and they would be "crazy" not to push for corporate tax reform.
Hatch said the White House isn't read to do tax reform now unless it means raising taxes.
"They'll take that in a nanosecond," he said.
The current business tax system taxes multinationals on global profits. Corporations can hold off paying those taxes until the money comes into the United States, and they can receive credits for taxes paid to foreign governments.
Congressional Republicans have argued that the 35 percent top tax rate for corporations is hampering U.S. firms from competing, especially as other nations lower their tax rate.
In 2011, House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) released a draft territorial plan that he would aim to include in any overhaul of the tax code.
Engler said his group of about 200 chief executives would like to see the tax rate drop to 25 percent, and that every credit and deduction is "on the table" to try to get the rate that low.
Prospects of an overhaul of the tax system are "reasonable" for this year although he had hoped that lawmakers would have the chance to ramp up earlier this year, he said.
"The environment is right for it," he said.
This story was updated at 4:50 p.m.