Corporate leaders expect taxes to go up no matter who wins in 2020, new survey says

Joe Biden and Donald Trump

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Most business leaders are preparing for corporate taxes to go up following the 2020 presidential election, regardless of who becomes the next commander in chief, according to a new survey. 

PricewaterhouseCoopers recently conducted a survey focused on 578 U.S. executives, including chief financial officers, chief operating officers and various risk management officers.

The poll, reviewed by CNBC, shows that 70% of participants expect that, under either another term of President Donald Trump or possibly with Joe Biden at the helm, business tax rates are going to go up to pay for the trillions of dollars in federal stimulus funds that have been used to help those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic

Thirty-five percent “strongly agree” that corporate taxes will go up under Trump or Biden, the poll said. 

Respondents were from a wide range of industries: financial services to energy, utilities and mining. 

The findings give a glimpse into how executives are looking at the election with just under 50 days to go until Nov. 3. 

“Their views likely reflect concerns that eventually there will be a price to pay for the increase in federal spending, tax deferrals and other forms of relief,” PwC wrote. 

In a briefing with reporters, Rohit Kumar, a leader of PwC’s Washington national tax services, said he was “surprised” to see a majority of those surveyed believing that corporate taxes are going up regardless of who wins in November. He noted that if Republicans keep the Senate, lawmakers from the party would not be open to raising corporate taxes. 

Even though the business leaders are anticipating higher taxes, 95% believe that some form of fiscal policy is needed to help businesses that have seen a downturn following millions of people across the country losing their jobs. 

One in 4 surveyed believe their companies will see an increase in company revenue over the next year, while 56% expect a drop in revenue. 

Biden has said he plans to raise corporate taxes from 21% to 28%. Trump brought corporate tax rates down to 21% from 35%.  Biden is ahead of Trump by 7 points in a national Real Clear Politics polling average 

The survey, however, also acknowledges that any major changes Biden is looking to make to the tax code will likely hinge on the Democrats retaking the Senate. There are at least seven Senate seats that are in reach for Democrats this cycle, including those representing the states of Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina, Georgia and Maine. 

Those surveyed appeared to be looking at a possible Biden administration as more of a threat to enact new tax policies. 

When asked what they’re likely going to invest in if Trump loses, 57% noted they would likely focus on tax scenario planning. 

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