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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
Economic Policy Institute's Corporate Tax Chartbook (with data on corporate taxes)
Reports on offshore corporate tax matters by the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations: