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Finally, Silicon Valley and Donald Trump agree on something: Taxes

The president’s early blueprint for tax reform wins some support from the tech sector.

President Trump Meets with Treasury Secretary Mnuchin at Treasury Department
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin (l) and President Donald Trump
Shawn Thew / Getty

Silicon Valley’s top tech executives have tangled with President Donald Trump over everything from his travel ban to his approach on issues like climate change.

But the likes of Apple and Google appear to have put aside their differences with the Republican commander-in-chief, after he unveiled a tax reform plan on Wednesday that could dramatically lower their tax bills and help them return to the U.S. billions of dollars in profits currently overseas.

Trump’s plan is still just an early set of ideas — it’s a single page, not some complex, comprehensive piece of legislation — and it’s already drawing complaints from Congress about its cost.

But the contours of it are catnip to the tech industry. Under his blueprint, for example, the corporate tax rate would fall to 15 percent, a major decrease from the current 35 percent rate. The plan also backs shifting the U.S. to a territorial tax system, meaning that only U.S.-based companies’ domestic earnings could be taxed.

And it’d make it significant cheaper for companies to return their foreign profits to the United States. Currently, companies are taxed at a rate of 35 percent when they repatriate those dollars. If Trump has his way, though, businesses might get a one-time tax break — perhaps a rate even as low as 10 percent — to bring their cash back.

That’s a major boon for the tech sector, where five companies alone are estimated to have $505 billion in cash overseas, according to an analysis done last year by Moody’s Investors Service. But the idea, known as a repatriation holiday, hasn’t always delivered the economic benefits its proponents claim.

Offshore cash: By the end of 2016, five tech giants were believed to have about $505 billion overseas. They could bring some of it back under the right tax conditions.

The likes of Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Intel — through their leading Washington, D.C.-based lobbying group — offered rare praise of Trump on Wednesday.

“We stand ready to support tax reform that lowers the corporate rate, moves to a territorial system in which profits are taxed where they occur and invests in innovation that is needed to drive our economy to new heights of prosperity and job creation for the American people,” said Andy Halataei, the senior vice president for government affairs at the Information Technology Industry Council. “We appreciate today’s announcement from the Trump administration and see it as a step toward advancing these objectives.”

Tech giants have lobbied for years to advance robust reforms to U.S. tax laws, without much success. That includes Apple, where CEO Tim Cook has worked vigorously behind the scenes to make his case to congressional lawmakers and Trump administration officials. Others, like Google and Microsoft, have devoted millions of dollars toward lobbying federal regulators to lessen their tax bills, federal records show.

As part of the tech industry’s push, those companies also fought aggressively against applying a new special tax on many imports, an idea called border adjustment. The idea is backed by the likes of House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., but so far, Trump hasn’t pursued it.

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