Welcome back to the U.S.A.

Welcome back to the U.S.A.

The GOP's new tax law lowers the tax rate on U.S. corporations' overseas earnings. The U.S. Treasury gets some tax money on repatriated cash, instead of nothing under the old system.

Computer-maker Apple issued a blockbuster announcement last week disclosing that, as a consequence of the new tax law that took effect on Jan. 1, it will repatriate $252 billion it held overseas and pay $38 billion in federal taxes.

It also disclosed that it intends to invest $350 billion in the U.S. economy over the next five years.

"Apple says that it is already the largest U.S. taxpayer, and it said that a payment of that size ($38 billion) would be the largest of its kind ever," stated one news account.

Apple is just one of a number of major corporations that have announced plans to transfer profits earned overseas to the U.S. and, as a consequence, pay substantial sums in taxes.

It's all part of a process called "repatriation" that was a large part of the recent congressional debate over lowering the corporate tax rate in this country so it would be more competitive with corporate tax rates in other countries.

The announcements that corporations plan to repatriate billions of dollars earned overseas have, generally, been applauded. But some critics have suggested this is another example of corporate welfare and that the country would have been better served by keeping the 35 percent corporate tax rate and not lowering it to 21 percent on domestic earnings and 15.5 percent on international ones.

For example, the critics note that Apple held more than $250 billion overseas and will pay $38 billion as a consequence of transferring it to the U.S. Had the tax rate not been lowered, they argue, Apple would have had to pay around $90 billion to repatriate the fund. Hence, they say, the tax savings represents an unjustified gift to Apple of more than $50 billion.

The argument is mathematically correct, but logically flawed.

For starters, Apple earns its money by making and selling products people all over the world wish to buy. So being allowed to keep money it earned is hardly a gift.

More important, Apple wasn't going to bring that money to the U.S. under the old rules. So instead of collecting $38 billion, the treasury would have gained nothing.

American corporations hold around $2.5 trillion in income earned overseas and on which taxes were paid. To transfer that money to the U.S. subjects it to another round of taxation — 35 percent under the old rules.

Here's an example. If a company earned $1 million overseas it would be required to pay a 10 percent tax ($100,000). To transfer it to the U.S., the company was required to pay a 35 percent tax, with a credit for the $100,000 already paid.

In other words, for every $1 million transferred to the U.S., the company would have to pay $250,000 in taxes.

One commentator wrote, invoking common sense, that "many companies would prefer to have $900,000 to invest in a foreign country rather than $750,000 to invest in the United States."

Since U.S. tax law did not require corporations to be foolish in their money management, that's just what they did — at least until now, when they can transfer that money to the U.S. at a lower tax rate.

The U.S. government is gaining billions of dollars in new revenue. But that's not all. Many more billions are being plowed back into the economy.

Companies benefitting from the new tax law also are reinvesting that money in their businesses and their employees. Numerous companies have announced they are giving employees bonuses or raises or are planning to hire new workers.

It remains to be seen just how much of an impression this reinvestment will have on our mammoth economy, perhaps not as much as proponents of the corporate tax cut have argued.

But, like mom's chicken soup, this injection of cash into the economy sure can't hurt. That's especially true considering that the alternative was for that money to remain overseas boosting foreign countries' economies and doing this country's economy no good at all.

Sections (2):Editorials, Opinion