On Thursday, the House of Representatives passed its Tax Cuts and Jobs Act 227-205 along mostly partisan lines – though 13 Republicans (none from Indiana; all from California, New Jersey and New York) voted against it. Meanwhile, the Senate Finance Committee completed markup on its tax reform effort and moved that bill to the full Senate, where a vote is expected after Thanksgiving recess.
It is encouraging that both plans reduce the corporate rate to 20% and move us away from the outdated worldwide system to a territorial (you pay where the income is earned) based tax system like most every other country. For large multi-nationals, there is a lot at play that could be of real significance: how repatriation of foreign earned income is addressed; the inclusion of some form of minimum tax on foreign income; limitations on interest deductions; changes to the net operating loss deduction; and much more. (Read a more detailed description of these items.)
Also, both the House and Senate proposals provide relief to many small businesses whose income is passed through to individuals. But how this relief is provided, to whom it will apply and to what degree are all yet to be worked out.
As for the overall status and process – it’s all up in the air at this point.
There is little agreement on details, but they aren’t really that far apart conceptually. The bottom line right now is they will have to try to work out those differences in conference committee. However, the big question looming is if the Senate will ultimately inject the health care debate – and repeal of the Obamacare individual mandate – into its bill and what that might do to its outcome.
It’s always hard to predict politics, but there is no question that the Senate needs to pass a priority policy after repeated failures with health care, which might help the tax reform cause. If the Senate bill does pass, then it goes back into the dark hole of private negotiations. However, leadership has stated the desire to have a bill on the President’s desk by Christmas.
So there are likely many twists and turns ahead. Whatever you may be most interested in or concerned about in either the House or the Senate tax reform plans, our advice is to relax for now and enjoy your turkey and pie of choice on Thanksgiving! It will all be in flux until at least a few weeks after.