Auto industry leaders raise concerns about border tax in White House meeting

Auto industry leaders raise concerns about border tax in White House meeting
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Representatives of the automobile industry raised concerns about House Republicans' border-adjustment tax proposal during a meeting Wednesday with White House National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn.

“America’s international nameplate dealers fully support federal tax reform but remain deeply opposed to the [border-adjustment tax] provision, which would drive up the cost of every vehicle on their lots by an average of $2,000 per vehicle,” said Cody Lusk, president of the American International Automobile Dealers Association.

“We were grateful to have an opportunity to share our perspective with the White House, and we are optimistic that a well-crafted tax reform bill, minus the BAT, can make its way through Congress and to the president’s desk for his signature.”

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The auto industry leaders' meeting with Cohn was one of several tax-reform listening sessions that the White House is holding with industry groups in the coming weeks. Since the White House released a tax plan in April, Trump administration officials have been meeting with business leaders and lawmakers as they work on crafting the details of a proposal.

"Today’s meeting with stakeholders from the automobile industry is another step towards delivering comprehensive tax reform for the American people," Cohn said in a statement. "The White House continues to hear from business leaders across all industries that the tax and regulatory climate in this country makes it increasingly difficult to be competitive. The president and this administration remain committed to creating a tax system that will spur economic growth and bring jobs back to America." 

One issue that the White House and lawmakers will need to resolve is whether to include a border-adjustment tax in their tax bill. The border-adjustment proposal, which would tax imports and exempt exports, was part of a tax plan House Republicans released last year, and its supporters argue it would help to encourage companies to move jobs back to the U.S. But some lawmakers, administration officials and businesses have worried that it would result in higher prices on goods for consumers.

Association of Global Automakers president and CEO John Bozzella also said in a statement after the meeting that his group has concerns about the border-adjustment tax.

“To grow our highly innovative and globally competitive auto industry, it is imperative that the BAT not be part of any tax reform proposal,” he said.

During the meeting, Cohn said that the administration hasn't made any decisions yet on issues such as international tax rules and interest deductibility, and that the listening sessions help the White House better understand how proposals would impact specific industries, according to an administration official.

Cohn also expressed confidence that policymakers would produce a tax plan that takes into account the feedback from lawmakers and industry groups, the official said.

- updated at 7:01 p.m.