2012 GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal today to lay out his economic plan, reiterating his desire to cut the corporate tax rate in order to “restore America’s competitiveness.” During an interview on CNBC, billionaire investor Warren Buffett, in response to Santorum’s piece, noted that is is actually “a myth” that America’s corporate taxes are high. “Corporate taxes are not strangling American competitiveness,” Buffett explained, even bringing a chart to prove his point:
The interesting thing about the corporate rate is that corporate profits, as a percentage of GDP last year were the highest or just about the highest in the last 50 years. They were ten and a fraction percent of GDP. That’s higher than we’ve seen in 50 years. The corporate taxes as a percentage of GDP were 1.2 percent, $180 billion. That’s just about the lowest we’ve seen. So our corporate tax rate last year, effectively, in terms of taxes paid for the United States, was around 12 percent, which is well below those existing in most of the industrialized countries around the world. So it is a myth that American corporations are paying 35 percent or anything like it…Corporate taxes are not strangling American competitiveness.
Buffett is absolutely right to note that while corporate profits are at a record high, corporate taxes are at a nearly half-century low. When looking at the rate that corporations actually pay (as opposed to the statutory rate that only exists on paper), the U.S. has the second-lowest corporate tax rate in the developed world, and raises far less than other nations in corporate tax revenue.
During the interview, Buffett also responded to Gov. Chris Christie’s pronouncement that Buffett should just “write a check and shut up,” instead of calling for higher taxes on the rich. “It’s sort of a touching response to a $1.2 trillion deficit isn’t it? That somehow the American people will just all send in checks and that’ll take care of it,” Buffett said.