President-elect Donald Trump’s election win moves Apple, Pfizer, Microsoft and other big U.S. corporations much closer than they have been in years to winning a big tax break on approximately $2.6 trillion in foreign profits.
This article explains the mechanics of taxing foreign-source income, the 2004 repatriation holiday, proposals for another holiday, and the prospects of enacting a repatriation holiday under the Republican-controlled government.
U.S. corporations are taxed on a worldwide basis, meaning that they’re generally taxed on income that’s earned within and outside of the U.S. subject to certain exceptions; income earned outside the U.S. isn’t subject to U.S. tax until it’s brought back to the United States — in other words, until it’s repatriated. At that point, it’s included in the corporation’s gross income. To mitigate double taxation, U.S. corporations may elect to either deduct or claim a foreign tax credit for the foreign income taxes that were paid or accrued on the foreign earnings.
Most developed countries, on the other hand, have adopted a territorial tax system. Such countries generally only tax income derived from sources within their borders. (more…)