US Congress tax reform effort accelerates

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Congressional tax reform effort accelerates: Senate Finance Committee leaders call for ‘clean slate’ and ask for proposals by 26 July - .PDF file.

The tax reform effort in the US Congress has accelerated this month, with Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus and ranking member Orrin Hatch together issuing a Dear Colleague letter to fellow senators, asking for their help in crafting a tax reform bill.

The letter announced the committee leaders’ intention to mark up a tax reform bill this autumn and indicated their desire to start this legislative process with a ‘clean slate’ — i.e. assuming that all ‘tax expenditures’ (special deductions, credits and similar items) would be considered removed from the US tax code. The letter also asked all senators to submit by 26 July, in writing, any tax expenditures that they would like to see included in the new US tax code and to include detailed specifications and policy justification. In addition, the letter indicated the committee leaders’ intent to begin drafting tax reform legislation over the August congressional recess.

Although many continue to dismiss congressional tax reform efforts as likely to bog down based on macro partisan jousting, clients are advised to take this process very seriously. There is real movement on tax reform behind the scenes and legislation is expected to begin to take centre stage — with committee action — as early as the late autumn this year. Although it is unlikely that Congress could achieve final enactment of a tax reform bill this year, it is more likely that we could see enactment of tax reform in 2014…

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