While Capitol Hill was buzzing on December 20 with talk of a possible government shutdown, the House approved a broad, catch-all tax and IRS oversight package. However, the measure is not expected at this time on Capitol Hill to be taken up by the Senate before Congress adjourns for the year.
The Retirement, Savings, and other Tax Relief Bill of 2018, an amendment to HR 88, cleared the House by a 220-to-183 vote. The 257-page measure is the third version of House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady’s, R-Tex., broad tax package. The measure includes tax-related provisions on retirement, disaster relief, IRS reform, the repeal or delay of certain heath care-related taxes, tax reform technical corrections, and tax extenders.
“This package will continue to boost our economy by helping our communities hit by natural disasters rebuild, by making it easier for folks to save for retirement, by cutting taxes that drive up health care costs, by setting a new tone for how we handle temporary tax policies moving forward, and putting taxpayers first,” Brady said in a statement after the package cleared the House.
Senate Republicans and Democrats alike have not expressed any real desire, let alone urgency, for considering the package before adjourning for the year. And though the year-end tax package contains several bipartisan proposals, it is not generally expected to be supported by Senate Democrats at this time. Further, the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) has estimated that the package would carry a $99 billion price tag over 10 years.
Additionally, the House on December 20 approved the bipartisan Taxpayer First Bill of 2018 (HR 7227) by a 378-to-11 vote. The “IRS reform” bill would aim to improve and modernize the various operations at the IRS, including but not limited to information technology (IT), cybersecurity, and taxpayer service.
Democrats are expected to be greeted with several leftover Republican tax priorities upon regaining majority control of the House in 2019. Additionally, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman-designate Richard Neal, D-Mass., has said he intends to hold hearings on last year’s tax reform legislation, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) (P.L. 115-97). “Taking on this new role is a true honor, one that I take extremely seriously and have worked toward throughout my time in Congress,” Neal said in a December 20 tweet.
By Jessica Jeane, Senior News Editor