As President Joe Biden proposes a range of tax hikes to fund his big plans for infrastructure and social spending, Corporate America looks set to escalate its Washington lobbying on taxes later this year.
The number of lobbying-industry clients targeting taxes hit 1,518 for this year’s first quarter, according an OpenSecrets.org analysis of Q1 disclosures, which were due on April 20. That’s below the 1,614 companies or other organizations that reported lobbying on taxes in 2020’s Q1, as well as less than the corresponding totals of 1,615 for 2019’s Q1;1,889 for 2018’s Q1; and 1,735 for 2017’s Q1.
The biggest annual total for lobbying-industry clients targeting taxes was 2,582 in 2017, the year that Republican-controlled Washington delivered the Tax Cut and Jobs Act.
“I think it’s early yet,” said accounting and consulting giant EY’s global vice chair for tax, Kate Barton, when asked about the tax-related lobbying for this year’s first quarter. “I also think that companies really geared up for the TCJA, so I’m not sure it’ll be higher — but I think it’ll be just as robust.”
Barton said she and her colleagues are recommending that companies digest what has been proposed so far, then come up with a “more concerted effort” to influence policies after June or July. That’s when there is expected to be further progress within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on a deal on a global minimum corporate tax rate.
“This is coming at companies fast and furiously,” she told MarketWatch. “About three or four weeks ago, the corporate tax provisions dropped, if you will, as part of the infrastructure package, but some of the provisions relating to individuals and to flow-throughs — whether it’s partnerships or S-corps — have really been dependent on the information that was sort of released in the speech last week.”
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Companies are “just comparing notes, some preliminary modeling is being done,” as they wait for a greater level of details, or “more meat to really analyze,” Barton added. She said her advice has been: “Educate yourself, model it out, and then educate your legislators.”
The Q1 total of 1,518 could inch up a bit and top 1,600 thanks to late filings, according to Dan Auble, senior researcher at the Center for Responsive Politics, the nonpartisan watchdog that runs OpenSecrets.org. The current total represents “about 90% of the Q1 reports for 2021 that will eventually trickle in,” Auble said in an email.