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Congressional Research Service: Corporate Tax Reform: Issues for Congress

Authors: Jane G. Gravelle, and Thomas L. Hungerford
December 16, 2011


Jane G. Gravelle and Thomas L. Hungerford examine controversies regarding corporate tax reforms.

Interest in corporate tax reform that lowers the rate and broadens the base has developed in the past several years. Some discussions by economists in opinion pieces have suggested there is an urgent need to lower the corporate tax rate, but not necessarily to broaden the tax base, an approach that presents some difficulties given current budget pressures. Others see the corporate tax as a potential source of revenue.

Arguments for lowering the corporate tax rate include the traditional concerns about economic distortions arising from the corporate tax and newer concerns arising from the increasingly global nature of the economy. Some claims have been made that lowering the corporate tax rate would raise revenue because of the behavioral responses, an effect that is linked to an open economy. Although the corporate tax has generally been viewed as contributing to a more progressive tax system because the burden falls on capital income and thus on higher income individuals, claims have also been made that the burden falls not on owners of capital, but on labor income—an effect also linked to an open economy.

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