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House GOP Sets up Tax Teams to Study Expiring Provisions of 2017 Tax Law

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Jun 4, 2024

TCJA - GettyImages-897796656

The top Republican on the U.S. House of Representatives’ tax-writing committee has introduced 10 tax teams charged with preparing for the 2025 expiration of provisions of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), CQ Roll Call reported.

The teams, led by Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.) chair of the Committee on Ways and Means, are composed solely of Republican members and are linked to broad topic areas, such as working families, rural America and global competitiveness, rather than traditional parts of the tax code.

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), who is leading the Working Families team tasked with reviewing expiring individual tax provisions, said that the goal of all 1- teams is to gather stakeholder and constituent feedback ahead of next year’s expirations.

“We’re starting with a clean slate. We have no preconceived notions,” said. “We want the best, fairest code that will allow for the most robust growth for our country.”

The teams are accepting public comment through Oct. 15.

“You can’t ignore them,” said Mary Burke, who leads the tax policy practice at law firm K&L Gates LLP, CQ Roll Call reported. “If the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee has formed these tax teams, then you take those seriously and you use them as an opportunity to voice, to provide your input.”

Senate Finance Committee ranking member Michael D. Crapo (R-Idaho) has said he’s looking at a similar educational effort for Republicans on his committee, according to CQ Roll Call. But there is little interest from Democrats on the tax-writing panels in both chambers.

“I think the subcommittee system works fine,” Ways and Means Committee ranking member Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.) told CQ Roll Call. “I don’t think that subtracting from that or moving away from that is a good idea. The subcommittees provide a lot of intellectual heft.”

The concept has been tried before, according to CQ Roll Call. In 2014, Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), chair of Ways and Means from 2011 to 2015, set up working groups. Camp ultimately unveiled a 2014 tax overhaul draft that didn’t go anywhere at the time but incorporated ideas from both sides of the aisle and provided a foundation for  eventual 2017 legislation.

David Skillman, a managing director at Arnold & Porter, told CQ Roll Call that lobbyists were figuring out which teams they would need to engage with to ensure their interests are heard.

“The structure of the working groups is a little vague,” he said. “They haven’t formally delineated all of the differences, and so some of the topics are little self-selected by the members outside of the broad identifiers the committee gave.”

Skillman, a former top aide to Ways and Means member Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), spoke highly of the Camp working groups, saying that they offered a great learning opportunity for members and staff. The Republican-only approach is “a missed opportunity to identify bipartisan overlaps,” he said.

Ray Beeman, principal and leader for Washington Council Ernst & Young, defended the Republican-only approach to the tax teams, saying that the wide divide between Republicans and Democrats over the 2017 law would make bipartisan teams a difficult proposition.

“As much as I would like to see a bipartisan type of work stream, I don’t know if you can do that,” said Beeman, who was a top GOP Ways and Means aide during Camp’s tenure. Republicans have said they want to make the 2017 law permanent, while Democrats have criticized it and want to increase taxes on the wealthy and corporations.

“The 2017 Trump tax cuts are so controversial or partisan by nature that it seems to me that it’s understandable why this is being done on a Republican-only basis,” said Marc Gerson of Miller & Chevalier, a law firm with a large tax practice.

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