GOP Discussing Second Tax Reform Bill; Former Treasury Official Expresses Doubt

While the White House and top Republican tax writers have been considering a “phase two” of tax reform, a former Treasury official has questioned its chances of success. Dana Trier, former Treasury deputy assistant secretary for tax policy, said at an Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center (TPC) event on April 9 that he is “skeptical,” of a second tax bill this year.

House Ways and Means Committee Communications Director Julia Slingsby told Wolters Kluwer on April 10 that Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Tex., wants to see more frequent fixes to the tax code. “The Chairman believes we need to change this culture in Washington where we only fix the tax code once every generation. Phase two is taking a look at things that we can do even better — encouraging more innovation, making America more competitive, and specifically helping families flourish by making the individual tax reforms permanent,” Slingsby told Wolters Kluwer.

Second Tax Reform Bill

A second tax reform bill this year is “certainly something that is being discussed,” Barbara Angus, House Ways and Means Committee majority chief tax counsel said at the TPC event. “Many people that are a part of the tax reform process believe…that continuing to refine the tax code is something that should be a constant focus,” she added, echoing Brady’s sentiment.

A phase two of tax reform would likely include making permanent full expensing for business investments and individual tax cuts, according to President Trump’s top economic advisor (TAXDAY, 2018/04/09, W.1). Those specific tax provisions under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) (P.L. 115-97) are currently temporary. “I think you get more bang for the buck on these tax cuts if you do make it permanent,” National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said recently.

Path Forward

However, additional panelists at the TPC event expressed skepticism about whether another tax bill could make it through the Senate. Any new tax legislation introduced without a budget resolution as a legislative vehicle, which previously allowed for the TCJA’s approval with a simple GOP majority under the Senate’s reconciliation process, would need Democratic support.

The prospects seem “highly unlikely,” according to Lily Batchelder, law professor at New York University School of Law. Batchelder added that she does not see “Democrats signing on for revenue losing changes.”

By Jessica Jeane, Wolters Kluwer News Staff

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