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President Barack Obama's call to lower corporate tax rates is popular among business leaders and lawmakers from both parties. That support, however, won't be easy to maintain if the president ever gets specific about how to pay for the lower taxes.

Obama said in his State of the Union address that he wants to close corporate tax loopholes and use the additional revenue to lower corporate tax rates for the first time in 25 years — without adding to the budget deficit. The top corporate tax rate is 35 percent, among the highest in the industrialized world. However, federal tax laws are filled with so many credits, deductions and exemptions that few companies pay the top rate.

"Over the years, a parade of lobbyists has rigged the tax code to benefit particular companies and industries," Obama said in his speech Tuesday night. "Those with accountants or lawyers to work the system can end up paying no taxes at all. But all the rest are hit with one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. It makes no sense. It has to change."

Obama's goal is to create a simpler tax code that encourages sound business decisions rather than aggressive tax planning. As it stands now, businesses and individuals spend more than 6 billion hours a year working to comply with the tax code, according to the National Taxpayer Advocate, an independent watchdog within the Internal Revenue Service.

It will take a sustained effort by the administration, however, to forge a consensus with lawmakers on reshuffling corporate taxes in a way that is sure to create winners and losers. The "loopholes" Obama talked about in his speech are regarded as cherished, well-deserved tax breaks by many lawmakers in both parties.


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