Q: Could Trump impose his own import tax on U.S. companies?
A. No. Congress writes the tax laws and the revenue-raising power of the federal government is held primarily by the House of Representatives under the Constitution. Tax laws are enforced by the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service.
Q: Could Trump impose a tariff on his own?
A. Perhaps, but he would likely face a legal challenge. Like taxes, tariffs are also revenue-raising measures.
New York University School of Law tax professor Daniel Shaviro said the president's power to impose tariffs on his own was "highly contested. ... Targeting one particular company would certainly add to the legal, as well as the policy concerns."
Shaviro said selective tariffs on individual companies, including foreign-based ones, would likely draw a challenge through the World Trade Organization and trigger retaliation.
Brooklyn Law School professor Rebecca Kysar wrote in an op-ed last week in the New York Times that Trump was floating the idea of a 5 to 10 percent imports tariff imposed by executive action. She said that would be unconstitutional, citing the origination clause that vests revenue-raising power in Congress.
Q: Is Trump signaling support for a border tax in Congress?
A. Some experts said Trump's tweets might mean he supports an unprecedented export-boosting approach to corporate taxation that is being proposed by Republicans in the House of Representatives, including House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Known as border adjustability, the approach is intended to help U.S. manufacturers by favoring exports over imports. As laid out in Ryan's "Better Way" agenda, companies would pay no tax on revenues from exports and would be unable to deduct the cost of imports from their taxable income.
Advocates said if that approach became law, it would attract investment to the United States, provide incentives to manufacturers to maintain or expand their U.S. facilities, and dissuade companies from leaving the country. But some tax experts are skeptical it will be approved by Congress.