What Are They Saying on Tax Reform?

President-elect Trump and his staff have made one thing clear as they plan for the upcoming administration:  comprehensive tax reform is a priority for his administration. Thirty years have passed since the tax code was last reformed, and in those three decades our tax system has only grown more complex and burdensome for the American people and the nation’s businesses.

Stop the Tax Attack has compiled a sample of comments from lawmakers and policy experts on tax reform timing, bipartisanship, and priorities. The time has come for tax reform to become reality.

Tax Reform Timing:

  • “Our most important priority is sustained economic growth, and I think we can absolutely get to sustained 3 to 4 percent GDP, and that is absolutely critical for the country,” [Treasury Secretary nominee Steven] Mnuchin said. “To get there, our number one priority is tax reform. This will be the largest tax change since [President Ronald] Reagan.” (“Trump’s Treasury pick says he wants to slash taxes across the board,CNBC, 11/30/16)
  • “I’m here to tell you tax reform is going to occur in 2017,” Brady said Tuesday in Washington at a conference of tax professionals sponsored by Bloomberg BNA and KPMG LLP. While Trump’s plan differs in some ways from a tax-overhaul “blue print” that Brady and Ryan released in June, the two plans “are kissing cousins,” Brady told reporters after his speech. Asked if there were any aspects of the House plan that would be a “no-go” for negotiating with Trump’s team, Brady said no. “It’s all go-go on tax reform,” he said. (“Trump’s Team Discussing Tax Overhaul With House, Brady Says,”Bloomberg, 11/15/16)
  • “There’s good reason to be optimistic that tax reform can be done next year,” said Pete Sepp, president of the National Taxpayers Union, a group pushing for reforms. “That doesn’t mean we won’t have to put in the work.” (“Five challenges for tax reform,”The Hill, 11/20/16)
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) named tax reform as a second priority, behind changes to the Affordable Care Act, when listing his legislative agenda to reporters on Wednesday. “Comprehensive tax reform … We’re going to address the real concerns of the American people,” McConnell said. (“Tax Reform Push Heartily Endorsed by Senators, Even Some Democrats,”Morning Consult, 11/16/16)
  • Comprehensive tax reform now appears to be a promising goal in 2017 with Republicans in control of the White House and both chambers of Congress following the party’s Election Day victories, some experts believe. “It makes the probability that Congress enacts comprehensive tax reform by the August recess of 2017 … near 80 percent,” Kenneth J. Kies, managing director of the Federal Policy Group LLC, said. (“Experts think tax reform possible in 2017,The Hill, 11/10/16)

Tax Reform Bipartisanship:

  • Dick Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranking Senate Democrat, said “there is room for conversation” on tax reform. (“Tax Reform Push Heartily Endorsed by Senators, Even Some Democrats,”Morning Consult, 11/16/16)
  • Key GOP senators contend the party needs Democratic support to first help move the legislation through the upper chamber and to then, more importantly, ensure it has a chance to be a long-term policy, arguing that President Obama’s signature achievements, such as the Affordable Care Act, are now under threat of repeal because they passed without any GOP support. “That’s one lesson of the Obama administration,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Tex.). “If you do things purely on the party line, then it’s unsustainable.” (“Tax reform shaping up to be one of Washington’s first fights under Trump,”The Washington Post, 11/17/16)
  • Several top-ranking Senate tax writers said they are confident that the House and the Senate can work together. “Our procedures are different, and we might have some different ideas,” said Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.). “But I think we could figure out how to reconcile.” (“Tax reform shaping up to be one of Washington’s first fights under Trump,”The Washington Post, 11/17/16)

Tax Reform Priorities:

  • Trump, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) all say they want to cut taxes for individuals and lower rates that businesses pay to make U.S. companies more competitive with international rivals. (“Tax reform shaping up to be one of Washington’s first fights under Trump,”The Washington Post, 11/17/16)
  • Top priorities for business groups include lower rates for corporations and pass-through businesses, a strong system for businesses to recover the costs of their capital investments and a territorial system that does not tax U.S. companies’ foreign earnings. (“Tax reform push sparks lobbying frenzy,”The Hill, 11/27/16)
  • An economic adviser to President-elect Donald Trump said Wednesday that he would recommend the incoming administration consider tackling business tax reform in a separate bill from individual tax reform.  “I think that the business tax reform is a lot easier to get done,” Stephen Moore said at an event hosted by Politico. “I would label this a jobs bill.” (“Trump adviser suggests splitting tax reform into two bills,”The Hill, 11/16/16)
  • “Our plan includes many provisions that will make it easier for people to start and grow their own small business. The reforms range from repealing the “death tax” — which is a major reason family-owned businesses are not passed down to the next generation — to innovative solutions that make the tax code dramatically simpler and fairer. First, we end the practice of taxing small business income at individual rates as high as 44.6%. These earnings will instead be taxed at no more than 25%. This will help local businesses grow in good economic times and bad, offering them the freedom to keep more of what they earn so it can be used to serve more customers or hire new workers.” – House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) (“Kevin Brady: A New Tax Agenda To Give Small Business A Break,” Investor’s Business Daily, 11/25/16)