Tax chairman introduces reform bill

The House’s top tax writer formally introduced his proposal to overhaul the U.S. tax code on Thursday, just as lawmakers are drawing the 113th Congress to a close. 

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Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) rolled out his tax reform proposal in February, after years of making a rewrite of the code the top priority of his tenure atop the powerful committee.

But the bill garnered little support, even among Camp’s fellow Republicans, despite many lawmakers insisting they want tax reform — underscoring the challenges that Washington will continue to face as it tries to revamp the tax system.

Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerA warning to Ryan’s successor: The Speakership is no cakewalk With Ryan out, let’s blow up the process for selecting the next Speaker Race for Republican Speaker rare chance to unify party for election MORE (R-Ohio) had reserved the symbolically important H.R. 1 for Camp's tax bill, illustrating the general support Republicans have for tax reform.

Camp said Thursday that he hoped the bill’s introduction would help spur momentum for tax reform in the next Congress, when Rep. Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanWatchdog group sues for donor list from Ryan-aligned nonprofit Terminating Budget Committees not as absurd as it sounds The writing is on the wall for bump stocks and Congress should finalize it MORE (R-Wis.) will take over the Ways and Means gavel and Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchTrump struggles to get new IRS team in place Romney forced into GOP primary for Utah Senate nomination Romney won't commit yet to supporting Trump in 2020 MORE (R-Utah) becomes Finance Committee chairman.

“At its core, the Tax Reform Act of 2014 is about making the tax code simpler and fairer for hardworking taxpayers,” Camp said in a statement. “This legislation makes the code more effective and efficient by getting rid of narrowly targeted provisions to lower tax rates across the board.”

Camp’s draft failed to gain steam in Congress in part because Republicans didn’t want to push too hard on slashing tax rates in an election year. But the proposal also showed the difficulties in revamping a tax code where many of the more popular tax breaks — like the deduction for home mortgage interest and charitable contributions — are also among the most expensive.

Plus, industries also fight to keep their favorite incentives in any reformed code, even as they push for the lower tax rates that would come from a tax overhaul.

Camp did make changes to some of those more popular tax breaks, like the mortgage interest deduction, and faced a backlash from industry, like when the financial services sector slammed a tax on large banks.

He was also unable to hit his goal of reducing the top tax rate to 25 percent, instead keeping a 35 percent rate on a small number of taxpayers.

Ryan has already said he’s learned from the problems Camp faced, and wants to implement “dynamic” scoring to ease the path for himself next year. The Joint Committee on Taxation said that Camp’s plan could raise anywhere from $50 billion to $700 billion in new revenue over the next decade, but Camp did not use that revenue to help lower rates.