From the environment to diplomacy, the American president is beginning to cause real damage. But the worst is yet to come with the arrival of his tax reform.
One year after his election as president of the United States, Donald Trump’s tax plan is relentlessly taking shape. Reducing environmental protection measures, upholding warlike policies in Iran and North Korea, transferring the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, or appointing highly conservative Supreme Court justices: the damage caused by this right-wing populist is limited only by his incapacity to completely overhaul U.S. political-economic authority structures. But this will change.
With the House of Representatives and Senate expected to adopt the proposed tax reform, Trump may soon be able to celebrate his first real victory in a year of presidency. It’s a major project. Its impact on financial geopolitics worldwide will vastly overshadow the highly diplomatic and relatively inoffensive blacklist of tax havens disclosed yesterday by the European Union.
In some ways, the U.S. itself is transforming into a tax haven – and Switzerland, a long-standing expert in the tricks of the trade, is directly threatened by this evolution.
Judge for yourselves. By cutting its corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, the U.S. is set to become more attractive than cantons such as Geneva. Being a multimillionaire in the U.S. will soon become noticeably more advantageous than in the Lemanic Arc.* The reform will indulge the super rich, further confirming the power of a hereditary plutocracy, of which Trump is a ridiculous incarnation.
The United States currently has a real problem due to anarchy in its tax system. Its aberrations have led U.S. businesses to shelter hundreds of billions of profits abroad. Therefore, wanting to repatriate this sum is both fair and logical. But, the current reform is unbalanced, due first to its unequal nature, and because it will further worsen the monumental U.S. public debt. But it is also unbalanced due to its overtly protectionist orientation.
According to the two versions currently under scrutiny in the House of Representatives and Senate, the future fiscal policy would discriminate against foreign corporations selling in the U.S. via subsidiaries. This bias contradicts World Trade Organization regulations and international taxation codes of conduct. It would be detrimental to all exporting countries, especially Switzerland.
The two houses of Congress have very little time remaining to reverse the trend, and to prevent the world – which has many more urgent issues – from suffering a fiscal war between developed countries.
*Editor’s note: The Lemanic Arc is a reference to the Lake Geneva region in Switzerland that encompasses the cantons of Geneva, Vaud and Valais.