Will The Proposed BAT Help Level The Playing Field Between The U.S. And China?

Part of the new tax reform proposed by the GOP is a BAT or border adjustment tax, described like so:

Because this Blueprint reflects a move toward a cash-flow tax approach for businesses, which reflects a consumption-based tax, the United States will be able to compete on a level playing field by applying border adjustments within the context of our transformed business and corporate tax system. For the first time ever, the United States will be able to counter the border adjustments that our trading partners apply in their VATs. The cash-flow based approach that will replace our current income-based approach for taxing both corporate and non-corporate businesses will be applied on a destination basis. This means that products, services and intangibles that are exported outside the United States will not be subject to U.S. tax regardless of where they are produced. It also means that products, services and intangibles that are imported into the United States will be subject to U.S. tax regardless of where they are produced. This will eliminate the incentives created by our current tax system to move or locate operations outside the United States. It also will allow U.S. products, services, and intangibles to compete on a more equal footing in both the U.S. market and the global market.

Forbes takes a more cynical view

Here’s how, in essence, this sneaky, anti-consumer tax works. Importers will no longer be allowed to deduct an item as a business expense. To simplify things, let's say a store imports a pair of sneakers for $40 and then sells them for $50, making a $10 profit on which it would owe taxes. Under the Republican plan, however, the retailer wouldn't be able to deduct the $40 it paid for the sneakers. In fact, it would owe taxes on the entire $50! And who, ultimately, pays this tax? You, the consumer, in the form of higher prices or fewer choices of where you can shop. Retailers and their customers will be hit.

But wait, it gets worse. Another feature of this bizarre GOP scheme gives exporters a gargantuan tax break by, in effect, not taxing their export revenues. Let's say a corporation sells a piece of machinery to Iran for $5 million, which cost only $4 million to produce. That means $1 million in taxable profit. Under the new Republican scheme, however, that $5 million received from the mullahs wouldn’t be taxable. Instead of a $1 million profit, the corporation, for tax purposes, would have a $4 million loss. Loophole doesn't begin to describe this "tax break."

In relation to the security industry though, would this make much of a difference?


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