UPDATE 1-Corporate tax goal in doubt as Trump kicks off push on reform

(Recasts with Mnuchin comment)

Sept 12 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Tuesday that the administration's goal of cutting the corporate tax rate to 15 percent may be unattainable, even as President Donald Trump steps up his push for tax cuts in Congress.

"Ideally, he'd like to get it down to 15 percent. I don't know if we'll be able to achieve that given the budget issues, but we're going to get this down to a very competitive level," Mnuchin told a conference hosted by CNBC.

The Trump administration is cranking up a publicity campaign to build public support for the president's goals, but has not yet produced a detailed plan for overhauling the tax code. Republicans in Congress also have not agreed on a tax plan, despite months of high-level discussions.

Financial markets rallied after Trump's election victory in November in anticipation of rapid approval of tax cuts, especially for corporations that now face a 35 percent income tax rate, but those expectations have faded, analysts said.

Trump, who promised tax cuts as a candidate last year, plans to host a bipartisan group of senators for dinner on Tuesday to press them to take action on tax policy. Trump may visit as many as 13 state visits to sell his planned tax cuts to voters in the coming weeks, the White House said.

He plans on continuing to visit states he won in last November's election that also have a Democratic senator, similar to recent trips to Missouri and North Dakota, as well as states with strong Republican support, an aide said.

Mnuchin declined to comment on what business tax rate is achievable. He said he is "incredibly hopeful" a tax plan can be enacted this year, adding it could be made retroactive to Jan. 1, 2017.

He said he was working to ensure that pass-through businesses, such as sole proprietorships and partnerships, would benefit from lower tax rates, while eliminating "loopholes" such as one for carried interest for private equity and hedge funds.

Mnuchin also said administration plans to end the personal income tax deductions for state and local tax deductions could mean residents of high-tax states, such as New York and California, would not likely see a net tax decrease.

"I'm hopeful we can size that so that it doesn't hurt New York and California, they may not get a tax decrease," he said.


A White House aide said the guest list for Trump's dinner includes three Democrats: Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch of Utah, Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania and John Thune of South Dakota are also invited, the aide said, confirming a guest list first reported by the Washington Post.

The U.S. Senate begins hearings this week on a tax overhaul.

Last month, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer laid out his party's demands for any bipartisan tax package in a letter to the president signed by 43 Senate Democrats and two independents.

Donnelly, Heitkamp and Manchin, facing re-election in states Trump won in 2016, did not sign it. The White House saw that as a sign that they are "more open to working with us," the White House official said.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton, David Lawder, Brendan O'Brien and Svea Herbst; Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Will Dunham)