Tax writers in Congress are set to begin debating and writing tax reform legislation. On September 27, the White House and GOP leaders in Congress released a framework for tax reform. The framework sets out broad principles for tax reform, leaving the details to the two tax-writing committees: the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee. How quickly lawmakers will write and pass tax legislation is unclear. What is clear is that tax reform is definitely one of the top issues on Congress’ Fall agenda.
The GOP framework proposes consolidating the current seven individual tax rates into three: 12, 25 and 35 percent. However, the framework leaves open the possibility of an additional top rate “to the highest-income taxpayers to ensure that the reformed tax code is at least as progressive as the existing tax code and does not shift the tax burden from high-income to lower- and middle-income taxpayers.”
For individuals, the GOP framework also proposes to:
Family incentives have traditionally garnered bipartisan support in Congress and the GOP framework includes several. The child tax credit, for example, currently phases out when incomes reach certain levels. The GOP framework calls for increasing the income levels for the credit to unspecified amounts. Another proposal would create a new non-refundable $500 credit for non-child dependents. The details would be left to the tax-writing committees.
One pillar of the GOP framework is a corporate tax rate cut. The framework calls for a 20 percent corporate tax rate, down from the current 35 percent rate. Businesses that operate as passthroughs, such as S corporations, would have a maximum tax rate of 25 percent, subject to unspecified limitations to prevent abuses.
Other business proposals include:
After the GOP framework was released, the chairs of the tax writing committees said their committees would begin drafting legislation. The Ways and Means Committee is made up of 24 Republicans and 16 Democrats. Republicans also have a majority on the Senate Finance Committee but only by two votes (14 to 12). This narrow vote margin is likely to influence any tax bill out of the Senate Finance Committee. Our office will keep you posted of developments.
A number of popular but temporary tax incentives have expired. Unless extended, these “extenders” will not be available to taxpayers when they file their 2017 returns in 2018. They include:
Other tax bills
Several tax-related bills may be taken up by either the House or Senate, including:
Please contact our office if you have any questions about tax reform, the extenders or other tax bills.