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Fact-Check: Yes, the United States Has ‘Just About the Highest’ Corporate Taxes in the World

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks as Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton listen during the second presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016. (Saul Loeb/Pool via AP)

During the second presidential debate, Donald Trump said the United States has among the highest taxes in the world, and it’s hindering our economic growth.

Fact-Check: MOSTLY TRUE

Trump said the following:

We are going to be thriving again. We have no growth in this country. If China has a GDP of 7 percent, it’s like a national catastrophe. We’re down to 1 percent. And that’s like no growth. We’re going lower in my opinion. And a lot of it has to do with the fact that our taxes are so high. Just about the highest in the world. And I’m bringing them down to one of the lower in the world. And I think it’s so important, one of the most important things we can do. But she is raising everybody’s taxes massively.

“She,” of course, refers to Hillary Clinton. Trump was speaking in the context of his own plan to lower taxes to spur economic growth, versus Clinton’s plan to raise taxes.

Trump said U.S. GDP growth is “down to 1 percent.” In fact, GDP growth was originally reported as 1.1 percent for the second quarter of 2016, and later revised up to 1.4 percent. Trump’s statement is very close to the original number, and only a bit of an overstatement for the revised number.

As for Trump’s assessment of the U.S. as having “just about the highest” taxes in the world, he did leave himself a bit of wiggle room by saying “just about.” More importantly, to assess the truth of his statement, we must consider which taxes he’s talking about.

There are numerous countries with higher income tax rates – America is not even Top 10 on that score. But U.S. does have one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world – currently the third highest, behind the United Arab Emirates and Puerto Rico. Given Puerto Rico’s unique status, it would be fair to say the United States has the second highest tax rate of any nation.

America’s top marginal corporate tax rate is 35%, while the world average is only 22.5%, and the European average is about 19%. Trump wants to dramatically reduce the U.S. rate to 15%.

Given the context of his remarks, it seems fair to assume he was talking about corporate tax rates when he said America’s were among the highest in the world, although he did not explicitly state that.

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