The federal government would love nothing more than to apply the 35% corporate tax to the estimated $1.7 trillion in cash U.S. multinational companies have designated as foreign investments - and outside the grasp of the Internal Revenue Service.
U.S. companies don't have to pay tax on profits made overseas unless they bring the cash home.
While eliminating this break looks tempting - the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated in a report this month that it would generate $114 billion in revenue over 10 years - such a move could have a variety of negative consequences that would hurt U.S companies as well as the U.S. economy.
One problem is that eliminating the break would put a major burden on many U.S. companies, which use the loophole specifically to avoid the 35% corporate tax rate - among the highest in the world.
The result is that billions in profits never get repatriated to the U.S. Most of the cash holdings of many major U.S. companies, in fact, technically reside overseas. Microsoft, for example, holds 87% of its cash in foreign-controlled accounts.