The state of comprehensive tax reform in Congress — a work in progress

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Although the political world in Washington is focused almost entirely on the impending 1 October deadline for an agreement over spending for fiscal year 2014 and the mid-October deadline for the president’s requested increase in the authority for the US to borrow, the tax-writing committee chairs continue their efforts to move comprehensive tax reform legislation in the coming months. And, within the past few days, tax reform, at least in concept, has entered the larger fiscal debate.

Tax reform efforts on the House side appear, as they have for the past month or so, to be much further along than in the Senate. The House Ways and Means Committee staff are reportedly far along in drafting a comprehensive tax reform proposal, although there are areas of the tax code that are still open and in need of additional work.

The drafting effort has been facilitated by the fact that the staff over the past two years have drafted legislative language and vetted it with stakeholders in some key and very complex aspects of tax reform, most notably international. Staff sources indicate that, in some aspects of reform that have had less vetting or prior public review, such as the exempt organisations area, the language that may be drafted will be ‘soft’ and potentially open to substantial change as it is reviewed by the members of Congress and the public. Committee chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) has stated his intent to hold a lengthy committee mark-up process to consider amendments, possibly for as long as two to three weeks, in contrast with the more recent committee practice of providing a relative short period for the consideration of tax proposals…

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