Building off of last year’s sweeping tax overhaul, the House Ways and Means Committee today approved legislation that would make key provisions of that law permanent.
But while most of the tax policies endorsed by the committee are unlikely to be enacted this year, some could win approval in a post-election lame duck voting session in December.
The sweeping $1.5 trillion tax cut law Congress enacted last December lowers taxes for both individuals and businesses. But most of the tax benefits for individuals and families – from the new brackets and lower rates to the expanded standard deduction – will expire after 2025.
Dubbed “Tax Reform 2.0” by House Republicans, the legislation would make those tax cuts permanent. The committee also approved legislation by Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., to expand retirement savings options by making a series of changes to employer-provided benefits, 401(k) plans and individual retirement accounts, and legislation by Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., to expand deductibility for startups.
Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation estimated the package would reduce revenue to the government by $631 billion through 2028.
The Ways and Means Committee action clears the way for a vote by the full House in the last week of September before lawmakers adjourn for the midterm elections. While committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, praised the legislation, it’s unlikely to be considered in the Senate, where 60 votes are required to approve most bills.
Republicans’ majority in the Senate is a wafer-thin 51 seats. Senate Republicans also don’t want to give vulnerable Democrats – especially those seeking re-election in states that President Donald Trump won in 2016 – an opportunity to vote to make permanent the tax cuts for individuals and families.
But House Republicans aren’t unanimous in their support of the new tax cuts. Two GOP lawmakers from high-tax states – Reps. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., and Erik Paulsen, R-Minn. – voted Thursday for an amendment by Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., to repeal the $10,000 limit on deducting state and local taxes that was included in last year’s tax overhaul. Pascrell’s amendment was defeated.
Republican leaders even face a mini rebellion in the House from GOP lawmakers who represent high-tax states such as New York and New Jersey. Reps. Dan Donovan, R-N.Y., Peter King, R-N.Y., Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., and Chris Smith, R-N.J., wrote a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., saying they would vote against the tax cuts if the bill didn’t address the cap on state and local tax deductions.
Another New Jersey lawmaker, Rep. Leonard Lance, R-N.J., also criticized his party for pushing the new tax cut bill, calling it an “exercise in futility” because it couldn’t overcome the 60-vote threshold in the Senate.
Even in a lame duck session after the November election, it’s unlikely making the individual tax cuts permanent could win the support of at least nine Senate Democrats. But one Republican senator on the tax-writing Finance Committee told BakerHostetler this week that the provisions expanding retirement savings and startup expensing have significant bipartisan support and could be included in year-end budget legislation.