When it comes to the G7’s recent decision to try and implement a global minimum corporate tax, a new poll of U.S. public company directors finds the boardroom community sharply divided on the issue, with a surprising number saying they actually support the measure—with strong caveats.
In our monthly Director Confidence Index, a poll of U.S. public company board members conducted in partnership between Corporate Board Member and Diligent Institute, 44 percent of polled directors say they support the concept, regardless of the rate, versus 42 percent who say they don’t—with another 15 percent saying they’re not sure whether they support it or not.
Among those against, the most common reason is loss of competitiveness for U.S. companies.
“The total corporate tax rate in the U.S. today (including state & local taxes) is competitive with the rest of the world. Any significant increase will make the U.S. uncompetitive again,” explained Clayton Daley, director at Simply Good Foods.
“We need to be careful that tax loopholes and incentives don’t continue to result in no taxes paid by major corporations,” said the director of a healthcare company in support of the tax. “For those companies still in early stage, don’t apply the minimum tax and continue to allow NOLs (net operating losses) and other offsets to encourage innovation and development.”
When asked more specifically about whether the rate of 15 percent was adequate, 31 percent of directors said they thought it was, but 20 percent said it should be lower, and 7 percent said it should be higher. A director in the financial sector who does believe a 15 percent global minimum tax is adequate says, “The drop from 35 percent to 21 percent was too drastic.” And another director even suggests that “it should be 25 percent”.
Nevertheless, still a significant proportion, 47 percent, support the idea of raising business taxes, although many of them say there needs to be more specific targets and very detailed infrastructure plans and enhanced government engagement.
The business community has been divided on the issue of raising corporate taxes. On one hand, the Business Roundtable and U.S. Chamber of Commerce have publicly opposed plans to increase corporate taxes in the U.S., while Chamber of Progress, a tech industry group funded by Amazon, Facebook, Google and other tech giants, has voiced its support if it means investing in American infrastructure. Most directors (53 percent) disagree with the idea of raising corporate taxes on the basis of global competitiveness.
Peter L. Bain, director at asset manager Virtus Investment Partners, says, “We need to be serious about investing in the economy to rebuild infrastructure and recover from the pandemic. This requires government engagement. We must be serious about managing deficits, so revenue must be raised to help mitigate the costs of necessary government spending.”
Right now, however, only 8 percent of directors polled say their company is planning changes to its strategy as a result of potential tax increases. The great majority (88 percent) say they’re either not going to change their strategy or will re-consider doing so when more details emerge.
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Corporate Board Member, a division of Chief Executive Group, has been the market leader in board education for 20 years. The quarterly publication provides public company board members, CEOs, general counsel and corporate secretaries decision-making tools to address the wide range of corporate governance, risk oversight and shareholder engagement issues facing their boards. Corporate Board Member further extends its thought leadership through online resources, webinars, timely research, conferences and peer-driven roundtables. The company maintains the most comprehensive database of directors and officers of publicly traded companies listed with NYSE, NYSE Amex and Nasdaq. Learn more at BoardMember.com.
About the Diligent Institute
Diligent Institute is the corporate governance research arm and think tank of Diligent Corporation. The Institute produces publicly available cutting-edge research on corporate governance practices by directors, for directors, with a global perspective. Learn more at diligeninstitute.com.