- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 11, 2018

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady on Monday released a revised end-of-year tax package that includes tax relief for victims of recent natural disasters, delays or repeals several Obamacare-related taxes, and jettisons the extensions of many expired breaks that had been included in an earlier bill.

The bill also includes provisions that mirror parts of earlier legislation and are intended to reform the IRS, boost retirement savings, and make technical corrections to last year’s $1.5 trillion tax law.

“It’s irresponsible to wait until next year to deliver crucial tax relief for families in 14 states and territories struggling to recover from devastating wildfires, hurricanes, flooding, and other storms,” Mr. Brady said in a statement. “Both parties need to come together to help these communities now.”

Mr. Brady had rolled out an end-of-year tax package several weeks ago that had included a number of extensions for popular but expired tax breaks but now says those provisions, known as extenders, will have to move separately.

House GOP leaders had eyed a potential floor vote on the original package late last month, but it was ultimately shelved amid concerns about its cost and some of the provisions, like the extension of a higher excise tax on coal.

There have also been attendance issues on recent House votes, as retiring and defeated members eye the exits.

The new bill would cost about $80 billion, up from the approximately $55 billion price tag for the original one.

The new package adds in several provisions designed to win GOP support, including a delay or repeal of several Obamacare-related taxes. Those include a five-year delay of the medical device tax, a two-year delay of a health insurance tax, a one-year delay of a “Cadillac” tax on high-cost plans, and the repeal of a tanning tax.

It also repeals the Johnson amendment, which places restrictions on the political activity of non-profit groups like churches, and allows people to set up 529 education savings accounts for unborn children — provisions likely to be opposed by many Democrats.

While the changes might boost the prospects of getting a package through the GOP-controlled House, it still faces an uphill climb in the Senate, where it will need some Democratic support to overcome a potential filibuster.

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