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Bill Hamilton
Sen. Bill Hamilton

Op-Ed: Increasing taxes on corporations is a bad move

As with many around the state and the nation, I have been watching the debates about the infrastructure package and the budget reconciliation bill with keen interest. I applaud both of our state’s senators for taking the lead in getting the infrastructure bill passed so we can replace our aging bridges, repair our roads and extend broadband internet infrastructure into areas that do not have service.

Both Senators Manchin and Capito have led the way in getting this bill passed. But, immediately following the passage of the infrastructure bill, the Senate took up and passed a massive $3.5 trillion budget resolution, and this causes me great concern.

Senator Manchin has indicated that he believes this budget is much too high and that it will spur inflation and add to the national debt. I agree with him, and I hope that level heads will prevail and that this massive budget will be pared down to something a lot more manageable.

One reason I worry about this massive budget is because I try to imagine how we will pay for it. One of the “pay-fors” Democrats are looking at is raising taxes on corporations. I hope that both of our senators will oppose this effort, as it is a move in the wrong direction.

In 2017, Congress and the White House cut corporate taxes to 21 percent. The economy immediately benefited and workers saw wage increases. Cutting corporate taxes led to more opportunities for workers to get promotions while also creating new jobs. Why would we want to reverse these gains?

Yet, that is exactly what many in Washington, D.C. are looking to do. They are looking to raise taxes in order to pay for green energy initiatives, paid family leave and expanding Medicare. We could not be doing this at a worse time. Raising taxes on our American businesses and job creators will hurt our economy at a time when it is struggling to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Businesses of all sizes are still fighting to keep their doors open. Increasing our corporate tax rate will not just affect large companies; the negative impact will be passed on to middle-class America as well. It will come in the form of fewer jobs being created. It will be passed on in the form of stagnant wages and less capital investment and expansion. Lower corporate tax rates allow us to invest in growth and expansion to keep U.S. companies healthy and vibrant so they can create more jobs and spur local economies. Increasing corporate taxes will do the opposite.

A corporate tax rate increase will also hurt our ability to compete on a global market. Companies based here in West Virginia and in the United States must compete against corporations in other nations, including our biggest rival China.

It is incredibly frustrating to know that while many of these nations are looking at reducing corporate tax rates to better compete with other countries, our leaders are exploring the possibility of increasing corporate taxes on American businesses. There is no better way to force companies to re-locate overseas than by damaging their ability to compete on home turf.

Tax increases are something that should never be taken lightly, and these are burdensome and damaging. They will hurt our nation’s ability to compete in a time when we should be working to foster growth and expansion in our economy, not passing tax-and-spend policies that will stifle competition and job creation. I hope Senators Manchin and Capito—as well as our state’s entire Congressional delegation—also see it as such and oppose any such effort to increase taxes on corporations and individuals. 

West Virginia Senator Bill Hamilton represents the state’s 11th District. He is the chairman of the Senate’s Natural Resources Committee. From 2002-2016, he served in the West Virginia House of Delegates. 

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