Wayne State University

Next Steps in Offshore Multinational Corporate Tax

More than 100 people attended the Levin Center at Wayne Law's half-day conference, "Next Steps in Offshore Multinational Corporate Tax," on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017, in Washington, D.C. Co-chaired by retired U.S. Senators Carl Levin and Tom A. Coburn, M.D., the conference provided a bipartisan setting for examining a variety of corporate tax issues being considered by the new Congress in connection with comprehensive corporate tax reform. The conference included a brief presentation of key issues by the panel moderator, drawing on past congressional tax oversight investigations, followed by an extended dialogue on the issues by the five panelists. Check back for video from the conference. 

View photos from the conference

Conference overview

At the time of the conference, corporate tax reform was a dominant topic of interest on the Washington agenda, but its pace and contours were still unknown. Panelists presented diverse views on how Congress and the new administration could tackle issues related to multinational corporate offshore profits. One major topic that provided a backdrop to the discussion was the practice of some U.S. multinationals of declaring an increasing share of their profits in offshore tax havens. Bipartisan congressional oversight investigations have disclosed how those profitable U.S. multinationals have shifted billions of dollars to low-tax jurisdictions, deferred or avoided paying U.S. taxes on those profits, and helped reduce the corporate share of U.S. taxes to a near all-time low.  

In addition to discussing the role of tax havens in U.S. corporate tax avoidance, the panelists addressed a number of other corporate tax issues including:

  • Future tax treatment of corporate foreign earnings;
  • The pros and cons of a tax holiday on offshore corporate profits;
  • The consequences of adopting proposed border adjustment tax reform;
  • Use of corporate tax revenues to fund infrastructure; and
  • Possible responses to European illegal state aid cases. 

Speakers

Conference co-chairs

Carl Levin

Retired U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-MI, is chair of the Levin Center at Wayne Law, Wayne Law’s distinguished legislator in residence, and former chair of the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations which, during his tenure, conducted bipartisan inquiries into a wide range of corporate tax matters.

Read his prepared remarks here 

Tom Coburn

Retired U.S. Sen. Tom A. Coburn, M.D., R-OK, served in the U.S. Senate from 2005 to 2014 and in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2001.  As former ranking Republican on the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, he participated in corporate tax investigations and also introduced corporate tax legislation.

Other speakers

Robert B. Stack

Robert B. Stack is deputy assistant secretary (international tax affairs) for the U.S. Department of the Treasury. In addition to overseeing development of U.S. international tax policy, he serves as the U.S. delegate to the Committee on Fiscal Affairs in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and to the Global Forum on Transparency. His last day in office is Jan. 20, 2017. 

Edward Kleinbard

Edward Kleinbard is the Johnson professor of law and business at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law, and a fellow at The Century Foundation. Previously, he was chief of staff for Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation.

Paul Oosterhuis

Paul W. Oosterhuis is of counsel at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom in Washington, D.C. Oosterhuis is an international tax attorney representing clients on a wide range of international and U.S. tax matters. He has extensive experience in international mergers and acquisitions, post-acquisition integration transactions, spin-offs, internal restructurings and joint venture transactions. He also represents multinational companies in non-transactional international tax planning and IRS controversy matters.

Elise Bean

Moderating the discussion will be Elise Bean, Washington co-director for the Levin Center at Wayne Law. From 2003 to 2014, she served as staff director and chief counsel for Sen. Levin on the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. For the second consecutive year, Bean was named to the Global Tax 50, an international list of 50 people and organizations who influenced tax policy.

View her presentation here

Background material

General

Donald J. Trump's tax reform plan

U.S. House of Representatives Republican tax reform plan

Tax Foundation's analysis of the House Republican tax reform plan

Tax Policy Center's analysis of the House Republican tax reform plan

Economic Policy Institute's Corporate Tax Chartbook (with data on corporate taxes) 

American's for Tax Fairness' comparison of the House Republican tax plan and Donald J. Trump's tax plan

Citizens for Tax Justice's report on offshore corporate tax issues

"Stateless Income's Challenge to Tax Policy"

Reports on offshore corporate tax matters by the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations: 

Donald J. Trump's infrastructure plan

Navarro-Ross report on infrastructure plan

"Five things to know about Trump's infrastructure plan"

Center for American Progress' report on infrastructure plan

Ron Klain's analysis of infrastructure plan

Proposed border adjustment tax provisions

Auberback-Holtz-Eakin's report in support of border adjustment tax reform

Martin Feldstein’s analysis in support of border adjustment tax reform

The Brattle Group's report in opposition to border adjustment tax reform

Reuven Avi-Yonah's analysis in opposition to border adjustment tax reform

Lawrence Summers' analysis in opposition to border adjustment tax reform

Oxfam's comparison of border adjustment and ending foreign tax deferral

Michael Graetz's analysis of unknown factors affecting the border adjustment tax reform

European actions to combat multinational corporate tax avoidance

European Commission's decision on Apple

U.S. Department of the Treasury's White Paper on European Commission state aid decisions

Analysis of the European Commission's decision making process with regard to Apple

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