Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldrige intends to place the question of lowering taxes on Americans working abroad before his Cabinet Council on Commerce and Trade next month.
This came out of a meeting on Capitol Hill yesterday at which Baldrige and Special Trade Representative Bill Brock assured a bipartisan senatorial group that the Reagan administration is seriously committed to policies that would boost American exports.
In a closed-door session with leaders of a 73-member Senate Export Caucus, Baldrige and Brock gave assurances that they were working closely and compatibly, and see no need for creation of a new trade department, as proposed in a bill by Sens. William Roth (R-Del.) and Lloyd Bentsen (D-Tex.), cochairmen of the caucus.
But on most other matters, the Reagan administration officials and senatorial export-advocates seemed in agreement. "We're talking about a very aggressive policy in trying to get government and business and labor to work together, to take off some of the disincentives that we've had regarding trade," Bentsen said.
One of the specific efforts launched by Bentsen and Roth is a plan to lower U.S. taxes on American nationals abroad. Bentsen said that such taxes are higher than those imposed by any other major nation, forcing American companies abroad to hire foreign nationals who "in turn buy foreign products."
The Reagan administration has not yet taken a formal position on the proposition that taxes on Americans working abroad should be lowered. Initially the administration strategy called for putting aside specific tax issues to enhance the chances for passage of one "clean bill" -- that is, the three-year Kemp-Roth proposal to reduce taxes. But Baldrige is sympathetic to the idea of lowering taxes on Americans working abroad and is ready to put that question on his council's agenda.
His own preliminary studies of the situation indicate that, although large corporations in effect can offset the taxes paid by their employes abroad, smaller companies can't.
In addition to reducing taxes on foreign nationals, Bentsen and Roth said that specific plans discussed yesterday with Brock and Baldrige to aid exports included:
Passage of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, providing "simplification" of existing laws barring American companies from paying bribes abroad.
A bill allowing bank participation in "export trading companies" to help small- and medium size American firms find export markets.