Transcript: Senior White House officials on corporate tax reforms proposed in the FY2014 budget

Edited by Jenny Jiang
Partial transcript of remarks by senior White House officials on corporate tax reforms proposed in the FY2014 budget. The press conference was held on April 10, 2013.

In your corporate tax portion of the budget, you have a number of tax increases, including changes to the international tax system, elimination of oil and gas subsidies, and so forth. Does all that additional revenue get used exclusively for lower corporate tax rates? You’ve all in the past talked about a lower corporate tax rates of 28% and now 25% tax rate for manufacturing companies. I don’t think that’s mentioned in the budget and I wonder why that wasn’t included.

Gene Sperling, Director of the White House National Economic Council:
There’s nothing new in our corporate tax proposal. What the President and our posture has been on corporate revenue is the following:

We think there is a significant number of unjustified tax expenditures and loopholes in our current tax code and we think some of them do have negative impacts in terms of shifting to tax havens. And we have – the President’s put forward detailed proposals. The President believes that those proposals could be used to lower our deficit or to help support more economically justifiable tax incentives.

However, what he has said for the last couple of years is that if there was a concerted effort, which requires business community working together, bipartisan congressional action, to have historic comprehensive corporate tax reform that would lower rates, have a minimum tax on foreign earning that would discourage any type of race to the bottom in terms of tax havens. If we were able to do that, he has said that he would be willing – he would accept a revenue-neutral corporate tax reform proposal.

So again, if that’s not going to happen and we’re going to stay with the status quo, the President believes that these measures should be eliminated. If we’re in a status quo world, then they should help contribute to the deficit [reduction].

But, again, if this is going to be a – if there’s a once-in-a-generation moment to have comprehensive corporate tax reform that eliminates – reduces expenditures, loopholes, unnecessary incentives, tax haven behavior, and lowers rates to make our corporate tax code more competitive, help encourage more jobs on our shores, then he’s willing to do that in a revenue neutral way. That’s been our position for a last couple of years; that is still our position right now.

Jeffrey Zients, Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB):
This is under the heading of nothing isn’t new. The $40 billion of annual extenders – those either have to be gotten rid of or paid for through revenue-neutral tax reform.

And the goal is still 28% for a corporate tax rate?

Gene Sperling, Director of the White House National Economic Council:
That is what we have put forward but I think what’s important to the President is really that it meets these principles. You know, if somebody has something that is not going to hurt the deficit, that’s going to meet his goals, you know, we’re always open to other ideas. But we think 28%, 25% for manufacturing is a strong aspiration but if others have ideas about how you could go even further in a way that is pro-jobs and does not hurt the deficit, of course, we’re always willing to listen to other ideas.


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