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Technology Companies Lobby U.S. Lawmakers for Lower Corporate Tax Rates

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John Daane, chief executive officer of Altera Corp.A group of Silicon Valley corporate leaders ventured to Capitol Hill this week with a message for U.S. lawmakers: If you don’t lower our taxes, plenty of other countries will.

The 18 CEOs and other executives met with dozens of legislators March 16 and yesterday with the aim of also protecting government spending on scientific studies and tax deductions for corporate research and development while pushing for changes they say will make their companies more competitive.

It was the Semiconductor Industry Association’s first lobbying tour since moving its headquarters from San Jose, California, to Washington last September, and a bid by the industry to flex its muscle as one of the country’s biggest exporters.

“The U.S. is competing with countries that want to build a semiconductor industry,” said John Daane, chief executive of San Jose, California-based Altera Corp., which designs programmable semiconductors. “Malaysia is offering a tax holiday to lure the businesses, and it’s basically a zero percent tax rate.”

Altera, whose devices are key components of products such as mobile phone base stations, already outsources much of its business to low-cost countries. The company has two research centers in the U.S., along with several sales offices. All of its chips, though, are made by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.

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