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Ensign pitches tax break proposal

WASHINGTON — Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., said Thursday he plans to offer an amendment to the economic stimulus bill that would grant corporations a tax break if profits they earn overseas are reinvested in the United States.

“That could be as stimulative to the economy as anything that is going to be in the package,” Ensign said.

U.S. companies such as Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Eli Lilly and Nike earn billions of dollars from foreign subsidiaries but keep the profits overseas to defer taxes at rates up to 35 percent.

Lowering the tax rate would encourage that money to be reinvested in the United States, creating jobs, Ensign said.

“If we lowered the tax rate enough, they would bring the money back, and you could literally do that in the next 60 days,” Ensign said.

Ensign sits on the Senate Finance Committee that will begin writing a stimulus bill next week. Ensign told CNN that he planned to offer his amendment at that time.

Congress passed an Ensign “homeland reinvestment” plan in 2004 as part of a corporate tax bill. It offered a one-year tax holiday that lowered the rate on reinvested funds from 35 percent to 5.25 percent.

The legislation was responsible for $217 billion flowing back to the United States in 2005, according to the American Shareholders Association. The association projected another $100 billion would return to the United States in 2006.

“It … created a lot of jobs,” Ensign said.

 

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