U.S. House tangles with top tax issues,
bill's timetable in doubt
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[October 31, 2017]
By David Morgan and Amanda Becker
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - As a self-imposed
mid-week deadline for unveiling a tax-cut bill loomed, Republicans in
the U.S. Congress were still grappling with key provisions and some
lobbyists expressed concern that a bill might not be ready as expected
Asked by reporters if Republicans would release a bill or a detailed
summary, House of Representatives tax committee Chairman Kevin Brady
said: "Our plan right now is the bill."
He added that the number of issues still unresolved was "very, very
few," but the Texas Republican did not elaborate.
But other lawmakers and lobbyists said major elements were up in the
Questions remained on tax deductions for business interest payments and
state and local taxes, as well as proposals to change tax law on
retirement savings and small business taxes, they said.
Any significant delay in unveiling a bill could jeopardize the
Republicans' goal of getting it through Congress and onto President
Donald Trump's desk before January 2018.
In an effort to fulfill 2016 campaign promises and score their first
significant legislative achievement since winning the White House and
majorities in Congress, Trump and the Republicans have vowed to enact
the first comprehensive tax reform since 1986.
But their plan for up to $6 trillion in tax cuts for businesses and
individuals over a decade faces challenges, not only from Democrats, but
from rank-and-file House Republicans.
One example is whether to keep the popular tax deduction for state and
local tax (SALT) payments. Over the weekend, Brady said he would
preserve the deductibility of property taxes under a potential deal with
lawmakers from high-tax states such as New York and New Jersey who
oppose ending the SALT deduction.
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The U.S. flag flies in front of the Capitol Dome at the U.S. Capitol
in Washington, U.S., September 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Analysts say eliminating the SALT deduction would disproportionately
hit upper middle-class families in high-income tax states.
Republicans from those states alone are numerous enough to derail
Republican Representative Tom Reed of New York said discussions were
still "too fluid" on a possible compromise to preserve the deduction
for property taxes, but end it for state and local income taxes.
"Got to look at the numbers," Reed said.
A lobbying coalition for state and local governments, real estate
interests and public unions said over the weekend that the Brady
compromise would "unfairly penalize taxpayers in states that rely
significantly on income taxes."
Over the weekend, the National Association of Home Builders vowed to
defeat the tax bill, saying it would double the standard deduction
to $24,000 for married couples and sharply reduce the number of
middle-class homeowners claiming the mortgage interest deduction,
raising home-ownership costs.
(Reporting by David Morgan and Amanda Becker; Editing by Kevin
Drawbaugh and Mary Milliken)
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