- Associated Press - Monday, January 12, 2015

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said Monday that he is introducing three bills designed to generate $310 billion over 10 years by closing tax loopholes.

The Rhode Island Democrat said tax reform is one area in the new Republican-controlled Senate where there is an opportunity for “significant bipartisan progress.”

“I wanted to make sure that we were trying to keep that conversation as fair as possible for regular taxpayers because regular taxpayers don’t have the resources to hire lobbyists to go out and create special provisions for them in the tax code,” he said. “Some of the special provisions that exist in the tax code are real stinkers, and absolutely we need to get rid of them.”

Whitehouse wants to raise taxes on some wealthy individuals and collect more revenue from corporations doing business overseas that take advantage of the loopholes. Republicans want to lower individual and corporate tax rates and generally have favored reducing taxes on corporations’ overseas assets and profits.

Whitehouse said some of the revenue from his proposals could be used to lower the overall corporate tax rate, which he thinks could help garner Republican votes. He hopes to get the bills integrated into a larger tax reform package and thinks Republicans will work with him since they will need support from Democrats to pass their tax reform proposals.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has said he would cooperate with the president wherever possible on issues such as tax reform and trade.

Sen. Susan Collins also believes that the nation’s tax code needs to be overhauled from top to bottom, according to Kevin Kelley, a spokesman for the Maine Republican. She has said Congress needs to undertake comprehensive tax reform to make the system fairer, simpler and more pro-growth.

Collins will carefully review Whitehouse’s bills and has not yet taken a position on them, Kelley said Monday.

Whitehouse said he’s re-introducing legislation to pass the so-called Buffett rule that sets minimum tax rates for people making over $1 million. He said it’s offensive that some very wealthy individuals pay a lower tax rate than “regular people,” and it’s emblematic of what’s wrong with the tax system. Another bill would stop U.S. companies that manufacture goods overseas and import them from deferring the payment of federal income taxes. Similar measures failed previously.

The third bill is a set of measures championed by retired Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan to stop multinational corporations from paying less in taxes by moving assets and profits through offshore subsidiaries. Levin asked Whitehouse to re-introduce the legislation.

The proposals could raise between $310 billion to more than $380 billion in revenue over a decade, according to the latest projections from Whitehouse’s office.

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