Budget cut proposed for staffers who would rewrite tax code

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“We are all being asked to do more with less,” a spokeswoman for the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee said in a statement.

In a short interview with The Hill, Thomas Barthold, JCT’s chief of staff, noted that most of his panel’s budget was used for personnel costs and that the committee would do its best with whatever funding lawmakers give it.

“We’re very appreciative that members recognize the heavy load that they’ll be asking Joint Tax to carry when Congress turns to tax reform,” Barthold said. 

Some Democrats appear to be worried about the effect JCT cuts could have, given the prominence that taxes are taking on in the current fiscal debate.

“Members are concerned that cuts to JCT staff could undermine critical work they do on tax provisions, whether it’s the individual measures currently being discussed in conjunction with the debt ceiling [or] broader discussions like tax reform,” one aide said.

JCT does fare better than other offices on Capitol Hill in the House appropriations bill, which cuts 6.4 percent from 2011 funding levels for House and joint operations.

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And it remains to be seen whether the 1 percent cut for the tax committee — a nonpartisan outfit that crafts revenue estimates for tax bills and helps analyze congressional proposals — will make it into law.

The Democrat-controlled Senate, which has yet to pass a 2012 budget, has only recently started marking up appropriations bills and has yet to put the legislative-branch measure on its schedule.

A spokesman for the Senate Appropriations Committee would not speculate on how his chamber might treat JCT, saying the panel would not comment on the specifics of a spending bill until it was marked up.

In their bill, House appropriators note that the tax panel would likely have more on its plate in 2012, with top officials on both sides of the aisle calling for tax reform.

“JCT will most likely be required to rewrite the entire tax code,” the full committee report of the legislation says. 

Meanwhile, House leadership and personal and committee offices would all be hit by 6.4 percent cuts under the current proposal, as would the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Economic Committee. 

The proposal to roll back the joint tax committee’s budget in 2012, if only slightly, comes on the heels of a roughly 7 percent funding cut for 2011.

Under the current House proposal, JCT would receive roughly $10.4 million in fiscal 2012, down from around $11.3 million in 2010.

Since taking over the House, Republicans have pushed for returning non-security-related discretionary spending to 2008 levels. JCT received around $9.2 million that fiscal year.