Republican: '2017 is the year for tax reform'

With tax reform a strong possibility in the next Congress, now is the time for those interested in making the federal tax code work better for the on-demand economy to speak up, Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) said Thursday.

“I think we’ve got a great opportunity, and the opportunity is to think about what’s the tax policy that we actually want?” Roskam, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee’s oversight subcommittee, said. He spoke at an event hosted by American University’s Kogod School of Business and the Kogod Tax Policy Center and sponsored by the Intuit Tax and Financial Center.

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Entrepreneurs working in on-demand services, such as Uber and Airbnb, can be treated as small-business owners that have to file quarterly estimated payments. Caroline Bruckner, a professor at Kogod, said that many on-demand workers find that they have to pay tax underpayment penalties. 

Also, some people risk being audited, even if the income they earn in the on-demand economy isn’t subject to taxes, as is the case with short-term rental income. 

“My prediction is 2017 is the year for tax reform,” Roskam said, because there is a widespread desire in Congress to reform the Internal Revenue Service and curb corporate inversions, in which companies move their addresses abroad to take advantage of lower tax rates. 

Roskam said that newly elected Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanReid: Intelligence community should 'fake it' on Trump’s briefings Trump steals the spotlight at Democratic convention Spokesman denies that Trump invited Russia to hack Clinton MORE (R-Wis.) is “perfect” for the on-demand economy community because he’s intuitive as it relates to technology and is very interested in tax reform. 

And Roskam said that at the least, most members of Congress have used on-demand economy driving services. He said there’s an “openness” among Ways and Means members to consider policy changes affecting the sharing economy.

Sen. Mark WarnerMark WarnerTim Kaine backs call to boost funding for Israeli missile defense Democratic National Convention event calendar Liberal group: Kaine could be 'disastrous' VP pick MORE (D-Va.), who has been one of the most active Congress members on issues related to on-demand services, said a lot of lawmakers haven’t jumped into this area yet. There’s an opportunity to come up with policy ideas before the debate on the topic becomes partisan, he said. 

Warner said that there needs to be more data about the size of the on-demand economy workforce and an openness to running pilot programs.

“If we were to try to legislate on this tomorrow ... chances are we’d get it wrong,” he said.