(For use by New York Times News Service clients)

(For use by New York Times News Service clients)

c.2013 San Antonio Express-News

For print publication only

By David Hendricks

San Antonio Express-News

Striving for a profound change in government policy, the Business Roundtable, a national organization of CEOs, recently generated new information about the benefits of exports, both nationally and state by state.

In Texas, for example, the Business Roundtable reports that 1,269 companies are engaged globally, supporting 6.75 million Texas jobs -- or 55 percent of private-sector employment -- that pay an annual average of $72,390, including benefits.

Blah, blah, blah.

The report adds other statistics. Who knows how accurate any of them are? The numbers probably point in the right direction, because plenty of other studies have determined that exporting companies pay more than non-exporting firms and because it just makes sense.

But statistics and accuracy are beside the point. Business Roundtable CEOs are arguing, at a point when Congress is studying broad tax reform, that U.S. corporations could multiply, be more successful and hire more people if the U.S. corporate tax rate was reduced and if the United States stopped taxing foreign profits at the same rate.

Such changes would increase U.S. business investment because having headquarters and operations in the United States would be much more competitive with the rest of the industrialized and economically developed nations, the Business Roundtable further argues.

Although the federal corporate income tax is 34 percent, the Business Roundtable lists it as 39.1 percent to include state business taxes and for comparison to corporate tax rates in other nations.

The 39.1 percent rate is more than 14 percentage points higher than the 25 percent average rate of 34 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries in 2012, the Business Roundtable says, proposing the U.S. rate be reduced to the 20 percent to 25 percent range.

Also, the United States is the only G8 country to use a worldwide tax system, which imposes tax on the active foreign earnings of its corporations when earnings are remitted home as a dividend. As much as $1.7 trillion in foreign profits were held offshore by U.S. subsidiaries in 2011 to avoid U.S. taxation, according to the Business Roundtable.

The disparity in tax rates grew over the past decades. Thirty of the 34 OECD countries have lowered their corporate tax rates since 2000. The effect of U.S. rates and worldwide taxation has been felt. While giant U.S. corporations in 1985 accounted for 13 of the world's largest 20 companies in sales, U.S. corporations now number only five.

Before complaints start about "corporate welfare," consider that corporations are not paying the nearly 40 percent tax rate. Companies factor their tax burden into their product prices, which means their customers, mostly you and I, pay the tax dollars. Corporations are just tax collection agencies.

But the corporate tax burden becomes a difference maker when one nation's tax rate is higher than others, making highly taxed exporting companies less competitive in their prices.

What the Business Roundtable reports fail to do is determine the number of additional and higher-paying jobs that a lower corporate tax rate would generate over time and whether the resulting higher income tax revenues would offset the difference. Other offsets are possible, such as closed business tax loopholes.

For the CEOs, those could be winning arguments.

dhendricks@express-news.net