GOP chairman gets hundreds of thousands of comments on tax reform

GOP chairman gets hundreds of thousands of comments on tax reform
© Greg Nash

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin HatchSenate panel advances Trump's tax policy nominee Healthcare debacle raises pressure for GOP on taxes GOP frets over stalled agenda MORE (R-Utah) received hundreds of thousands of comments on tax reform from taxpayers and groups after his call for feedback from stakeholders, a committee spokesperson said Monday.

“The Senate Finance Committee received hundreds of thousands of submissions from a broad cross section of citizens and stakeholders offering a variety of ideas and proposals on how to reform the nation’s broken tax code,” the spokesperson said. “Each submission will be considered as the committee moves forward with its current tax reform efforts.”

Hatch and other Republicans are hoping to pass tax-reform legislation this year. The Utah Republican is one of six lawmakers and administration officials who meet regularly to work on a tax framework that the White House, House and Senate can all support. He has also tasked GOP members of the Finance Committee to provide input on specific areas of the tax code.

ADVERTISEMENT
In June, Hatch sent a letter to stakeholders asking them for their thoughts about how best to overhaul the tax code. The deadline for submissions is Monday.

Hatch said he was particularly interested in recommendations about how to provide tax relief to the middle class, make tax changes that strengthen small and large businesses, remove barriers to savings and investment, and modernize the international tax system.

The Finance Committee is planning to keep stakeholders’ submissions confidential, but some groups have publicly released their comments.

Some of the comments have focused broadly on the need for tax reform to grow the economy.

“Our coalition members would be disappointed if Washington squanders this once-in-a-generation opportunity by abandoning real reform to instead enact a temporary rate cut or some other half-measure that fails to fix what is really broken in our tax code,” said the American Made Coalition, a group of businesses that includes Boeing, General Electric and Pfizer. “That is why we are calling on Congress to deliver permanent, transformative tax reform that will give American businesses the certainty needed to make long-term investments here in the United States.”

The American Made Coalition has been supportive of Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanWant bipartisan health reform? Make the debate honest again Ex-CBO directors defend against GOP attacks on ObamaCare analysis Ryan: CBO's healthcare estimate is 'bogus' MORE’s (R-Wis.) border-adjustment tax proposal, which taxes imports and exempt exports. But the proposal has faced pushback from lawmakers and other business groups, so it’s unlikely to be enacted.

In the comments it submitted Monday, the coalition said it thinks the border-adjustment tax can help transform the tax code to encourage businesses to make investments in the U.S. However, the group said it is “open to other solutions that achieve these three main objectives — permanence; territoriality; and a significant, globally competitive rate cut.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce encouraged Hatch to pursue tax reform that lowers rates for all businesses, keeps investment taxes as low as possible and makes tax changes permanent.

“In sum, we need comprehensive tax reform to create a tax environment that is increasingly pro-business and pro-growth,” Caroline Harris, vice president for tax policy at the Chamber, said in a blog post last week outlining the group’s comments. “By accomplishing those reforms, we can grow our GDP, increase jobs, and reenergize the legacy of American Free Enterprise.”

Other comments focused on specific tax provisions and business sectors. For example, the Angel Capital Association made recommendations about tax policies that can help start-ups.

A large number of the comments came from taxpayers who urged Hatch to reject tax cuts for high earners and large corporations.

An email-writing effort sponsored by Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF), Daily Kos and several other liberal groups resulted in more than 375,000 comments to Hatch, a spokesman for ATF said. Activists who sent letters as part of the effort urged Congress to have high-income people and corporations to pay their "fair share" in taxes and to use the additional tax revenue for infrastructure, education and healthcare programs.

Another campaign, launched by the progressive groups Tax March and Stand Up America, also urged members of the public to tell Hatch not to pursue tax cuts for the wealthy. A spokesman for Tax March said more than 32,000 emails have been sent to Hatch using the form on the group’s website. 

updated at 6:14 p.m.