Geithner to discuss corporate tax rate with executives

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner speaks during a meeting with leading executive compensation experts at the Treasury Department in Washington, D.C.

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Kai Ryssdal: As long as we're on jobs, Ben Bernanke was on Capitol Hill testifying today, where he offered this prediction about the labor market and the new normal.

BEN BERNANKE: At this rate of improvement, it could take four to five more years for the job market to normalize fully.

He did say, though, that the economy is self-sustaining, so that's a positive.

With new chief of staff Bill Daley bringing a corporate perspective to the Obama administration, the White House is going to extend another olive branch to big business next Friday. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is scheduled to meet with a group of executives about corporate tax reform. The tax rate for businesses in this country tops out at 35 percent. That's the second highest rate among developed countries, just below Japan.

From Washington, Marketplace's David Gura reports.


David Gura: Corporations have wanted the government to overhaul the tax code for a long time.

Clint Stretch is with Deloitte. He says this is an important conversation, and a difficult one.

Clint Stretch: Everybody can agree, yes, I'd like a lower tax rate, but when you get down to what am I going to give up to get it, people may have very different views on that.

Right now, many U.S. companies get big breaks because the tax rate is so high.

Matt Dolan: It is essential that some means be in place to mitigate the damage done by our current systems.

Matt Dolan is a tax attorney with the Federal Policy Group. He says there's a deduction for manufacturing and production, a credit for research and design. He suspects a lower rate would help the economy, because companies would expect more money after taxes.

Dolan: And if prospective reward is greater, then there will be a greater willingness, in turn, to take more risk -- and to invest more capital.

Many countries have decided to lower their tax rates, including Canada, the U.K. and Japan. The president's deficit commission recommended an overhaul. Matt Dolan says the Obama administration is taking a positive step, meeting with corporate executives.

Dolan: I do think it will be helpful to building the relationships, but the consequences of those strengthened relationships won't be evident until proposals are made.

Experts say tax reform needs presidential support to succeed. Ronald Reagan led the last big overhaul, in 1986. This time around, it seems the Obama administration is behind it. The Treasury Department says this'll be the first of several meetings.

In Washington, I'm David Gura for Marketplace.

About the author

David Gura is a reporter for Marketplace, based in the Washington, D.C. bureau.

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