Baucus: Tax reform on 'parallel track' to budget conference

The budget conference, created in the last hours of the recent fiscal impasse, has until Dec. 13 to craft a plan.

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Baucus told Bloomberg that he hopes to release discussion drafts in the next several months, while Camp has said that he plans on marking up a bill by the end of the year.

But Baucus’s interview also underscores the hurdles that Washington faces in rewriting the code.

Baucus said that “anything’s possible” on perhaps the biggest roadblock to tax reform: whether a rewritten code should raise more revenue.

Congressional Republicans are against any further revenue increases, following the fiscal cliff deal signed early this year, while President Obama and Democrats want more tax increases on the highest earners and corporations.

Baucus voted against the Senate budget this year in part because he thought its revenue target – an extra $975 billion – was too steep. But a spokesman for the lawmaker reiterated on Friday that Baucus’s ”preference and intent is for tax reform to raise significant revenue.”

The Finance Committee chairman, like Camp, also wants to deal with the individual and corporate tax systems together, while Obama and his administration have shown more interest in the business side.

But Baucus also said that he wants to lower the top corporate rate from 35 percent to 30 percent or the high 20s. Obama’s called for a top rate of 28 percent, while Camp and House Republicans want to get the rate down to 25 percent.

Camp has called for reducing the top individual rate, now 39.6 percent, to 25 percent.

Baucus told Bloomberg that he didn’t know how low the individual rate could go, in large part because many expensive tax breaks are also quite popular.

“Look, it's hard, because there are a lot of provisions that people like a lot, whether it's charitable deduction or mortgage or state and local, whatnot,” Baucus said. "But, still, I do believe that we can dramatically simplify the code.”