Senate panel pushes targeted tax bills

An eye toward a total overhaul of the tax code did not stop Senate lawmakers from advancing 17 different tax bills Wednesday.

Top tax writers are adamant they still want to pursue a major reworking of the tax code, but with progress hard to come by on that front for the last several years, the Senate Finance Committee agreed to easily pass several targeted tax tweaks in the meantime.

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Their sponsors described the bills now heading to the Senate floor as long-overdue fixes to ignored tax provisions, some of which that have languished, as lawmakers have pursued a broader overhaul of the code.

Panel leaders maintained that the broader reform effort remains ongoing, with an eye toward simplifying the tax code. But they added that that was no reason to not pursue more precise relief at the same time.

“The push for comprehensive tax reform is going to continue,” said Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenSenate GOP blocks defense bill, throwing it into limbo Lobbyists turn to infrastructure law's implementation Democrats plow ahead as Manchin yo-yos MORE (D-Ore.), the top Democrat on the panel. “This legislation may not be a comprehensive overhaul, but it makes a number of targeted improvements that will benefit our economy, workers and families.”

Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchLobbying world Congress, stop holding 'Dreamers' hostage Drug prices are declining amid inflation fears MORE (R-Utah) said he hoped Wednesday’s markup, which lasted a little over an hour, would serve as a “good template” for future legislative work at the committee. He noted that this sort of piecemeal tax work has been hard to come by in recent years, and there is more work that could be done.

“While this is the first markup of its kind, it shouldn’t be the last,” he said.

The bills were approved by the committee by voice vote. And Hatch said at the outset that this particular group of bills were only considered because they had bipartisan backing, lacked major opposition and were fully paid for.

And to be sure, the measures steered clear of any contentious issues, and instead, focused on specific topics.

For example, one bill would require the IRS to notify a nonprofit ahead of time, if it is in danger of losing its tax exemption for failing to file required paperwork. Another would shorten the period under which the IRS could collect unpaid taxes from combat veterans.

And a third would change excise tax law to accommodate the growing alcoholic cider industry.

Sen. Charles SchumerChuck SchumerLawmakers take aim at 'Grinches' using bots to target consumers during holidays Democratic frustration growing over stagnating voting rights bills Schumer mourns death of 'amazing' father MORE (D-N.Y.), a leading backer of the measure, said the bill would “update our cider definition to ensure the common carbonation and alcohol levels associated with traditional cider are reflected in the excise tax.”

“The Cider Act is moving,” he added. “How ‘bout them apples?”