GOP lawmaker: Tax reform will be a 'heightened topic of conversation'

Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) said Tuesday that he expects tax reform will be a “heightened topic of conversation as we move into the next session of Congress starting next January.”

During a call hosted by the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, Johnson said he’s “fairly certain that nothing will be finalized this year” because Congress will not be in session for much of the rest of 2016.

However, he predicted that there will be “great, substantive discussions about what we will do” in 2017.

Johnson said that “the American people are oppressed under our current tax system.”

He expressed his support for the House Ways and Means Committee’s tax-reform efforts as well as a bill that would terminate the current tax code in 2019 and spur Congress to create a new one.

National Taxpayers Union President Pete Sepp said on the call that there are incremental steps that Congress could take this year to “lay a proper foundation for tax reform.”

“We need other processes to get members of Congress thinking on a regular basis of how to reform the tax system,” he said. “One way you do that is by starting small.”

Sepp said that Congress could pass legislation this year to improve taxpayers’ rights.

He also said that perhaps Congress could “declare a time out” on the Treasury Department’s proposed rules aimed at curbing inversions and work on legislative approaches to address the offshore tax deals. The Treasury’s proposal has drawn concerns from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle because of their breadth.

Sepp said tax reform legislation needs to be enacted next year because “we are in the midst of a system that is collapsing under its own weight.” Without tax reform next year, U.S. tax revenue will start to dry up since the country will not be internationally competitive.

He praised the House Republicans’ tax-reform blueprint released last month and noted that Democrats also have to weigh in on tax changes.

Sepp and Taxpayers Protection Alliance President David Williams both said they think a promising sign for tax reform is that there are both Democrats and Republicans who are interested in lowering the corporate tax rate.

“We hope that both parties and both candidates can come together and get this done,” Williams said.