Multinational companies including Apple, Pfizer and Ford MotorCo. would face a new tax on payments they make to offshoreaffiliates under the House Republicans' tax bill—a surpriseprovision that has stunned tax experts.

The new 20% tax is “the atomic bomb in the draft” legislation,said Ray Beeman, co-leader of Ernst & Young's WashingtonCouncil advisory services group. “We're trying to get our armsaround the implications.”

So far, many big U.S. companies have kept quiet on the proposal.But already, House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady has tweakedthe provision to lessen its impact, part of a package of changesthe tax-writing panel adopted Monday night. The committee willcontinue debating the bill Tuesday.

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