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Janet Yellen sees Biden tax plan bring back $2.6t in overseas profits

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen unveiled a detailed sales pitch for the Biden administration’s proposed new corporate-tax code, a plan that she said would be fairer to all Americans, remove incentives for companies to shift investments and profit abroad and raise more money for critical needs at home.

Expanding on the tax proposals released last week in President Joe Biden’s $US2.25 trillion ($3 trillion) economic package, the US Treasury said the changes, over a decade, would bring back about $US2 trillion ($2.6 trillion) in corporate profits into the US tax net, with about $US700 billion in federal revenue streaming in from ending incentives to shift profits overseas.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is pushing a plan that will significantly increase taxes for America’s multinational companies.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is pushing a plan that will significantly increase taxes for America’s multinational companies.Credit:AP

All told, the extra tax take of about $US2.5 trillion over 15 years would pay for Biden’s eight-year spending initiative, which is aimed at infrastructure, green investments and social programs that would support a larger labour force, according to the Treasury.

“Our tax revenues are already at their lowest levels in generations, and as they continue to drop lower we will have less money to invest in roads, bridges, broadband and R&D,” Yellen told reporters during a phone briefing. “By choosing to compete on taxes, we’ve neglected to compete on the skill of our workers and the strength of our infrastructure. It’s a self-defeating competition, which is why we’re proposing this ‘Made in America’ tax plan. It changes the game we play.”

The Treasury released a 17-page report on Wednesday that will likely serve as the road map for administration officials and lawmakers seeking to navigate the combined package of spending and tax proposals through Congress in coming months.

The key elements of the corporate tax plan include minimum taxes on both foreign earnings as well as the domestic profits that corporations report to shareholders, changes that would significantly increase the taxes companies owe.

“By choosing to compete on taxes, we’ve neglected to compete on the skill of our workers and the strength of our infrastructure. It’s a self-defeating competition, which is why we’re proposing this ‘Made in America’ tax plan. It changes the game we play.”

Janet Yellen

The tax proposals already face sharp opposition from Republican lawmakers and pushback from some moderate Democrats. West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin has said he opposes a corporate tax rate above 25 per cent. With the Senate split 50-50, Biden cannot afford to lose the support of a single Democratic senator if he wishes to push through any portion of the package.

While most business groups, including the US Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable, have come out in opposition to the tax increases, some have acknowledged that there could be benefits from higher corporate taxes to fund infrastructure spending. Amazon.com Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos said on Tuesday that he would support a tax-rate increase, but didn’t specify a number.

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