Trump vows to cut taxes for businesses

Trump vows to cut taxes for businesses
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Democrat slams Donald Trump Jr. for ‘serious case of amnesia’ after testimony Skier Lindsey Vonn: I don’t want to represent Trump at Olympics Poll: 4 in 10 Republicans think senior Trump advisers had improper dealings with Russia MORE vowed to slash taxes for U.S. companies as long as they keep their operations within the United States during a Monday meeting with business leaders.

Trump promised to cut taxes for businesses and the middle-class as part of his America First program.

“We are going to be cutting taxes massively for both the middle class and for companies. And that's massively. We're trying to get it down anywhere from 15 to 20 percent, it's now 35 percent, but it's probably more 38 percent than it is 35,” he told a group of business leaders at the White House.

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The top corporate tax rate is 35 percent, though companies can bring down their tax bills with various breaks.

The top individual tax rate is 39.6 percent for income above $466,951 annually.

There “will be advantages for countries that do indeed make their products here,” Trump said.

Trump has proposed cutting the corporate tax rate to 15 percent, while House Republicans are advocating for a 20 percent rate.

Several of Trump’s remarks were also on trade.

After the meeting, the president signed an executive order that would withdraw the United States from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, which was never approved by Congress.

The Obama administration, which tried to push TPP through Congress, left a splash page up on the U.S. Trade Representative’s website promoting the sweeping Asia-Pacific agreement that was still online as of Monday morning.

Trump also is expected to take steps to begin a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.

During the meeting with business leaders, Trump warned that companies will only benefit from his tax cuts if the remain in the U.S.

“I just want to tell you, all you have to do is stay, don’t leave, don’t fire your people of the United States, we have the greatest people,” he said. “But if we’re going to fire people to build a product outside it’s not going to happen.”

Trump reiterated his threat to slap a border tax on companies that leave the U.S. and then try to ship products back into the country. He has said those tariffs would be as high as 35 percent.

“But if you go to another country … if that happens, we are going to be imposing a very major border tax on the product when it comes in, which I think is fair,” he said.

"Some people would say that's not free trade, but we don't have free trade now. We're the only one that makes it easy to come into the country … many other countries, they can't believe what we do.

Trump also emphasized the importance of manufacturing and his desire to fire up the sector.

“We need to bring manufacturing back to our country,” he said.

“It's one of my most important subjects. It's what the people wanted, it's one of the reasons I'm sitting here instead of somebody else sitting here. And I think it's something I'm good at.”

Trump vowed to cut red tape for businesses by cutting regulations by at least 75 percent and in ways that would allow them to expedite the building of new factories.

“If somebody wants to put up a factory, it's going to be expedited,” he said. “You have to go through the process, but it's going to be expedited. We're going to take care of the environment, going to take care of safety, but you are going to get such great service.”

Among the executives attending Monday meeting were Marilyn Hewson, CEO of Lockheed Martin, Mark Fields the head of Ford, Mario Longhi, the CEO of U.S. Steel, Michael Dell, head of Dell Technologies and Andrew Liveris, the head of Dow Chemical.

Fields told reporters the meeting with Trump had been "very, very positive."

"Walking out of the meeting today, I know I come out with a lot of confidence that the president is very, very serious in making sure the United States economy is going to be strong and have policies — tax, regulatory or trade — to drive that,” said Ford CEO Mark Fields. “That encourages all of us, as CEOs, as we make decisions going forward."

Ben Kasimar and Melanie Zanona contributed.