Senate panel advances Trump’s tax policy nominee

The Senate Finance Committee on Thursday advanced President Trump’s nominee for a key tax policy position.

The panel unanimously voted to send David Kautter’s nomination to be assistant secretary of the Treasury for tax policy to the full Senate.

If confirmed to the position, which oversees tax matters for the Treasury Department, Kautter is likely to play an important role in the administration’s efforts to overhaul the tax code.

{mosads}“Treasury has an outstanding team of many of the most talented tax professionals in the world. Working together with you and your staffs, I believe we can get tax reform over the finish line,” Kautter told senators at his nomination hearing earlier this week. “If confirmed, it would be an honor to strive to do so.”

Kautter is the partner in charge of the Washington national tax practice of RSM, a tax and consulting services firm. He also worked at Ernst and Young for more than 30 years and was a Capitol Hill staffer for former Sen. John Danforth (R-Mo.).

Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) on Thursday praised Kautter’s qualifications.

“David Kautter’s experience and knowledge will serve the nation well as we work to unite on comprehensive tax reform,” Hatch said in a statement after the vote. “I am hopeful the full Senate will put politics aside and swiftly confirm his nomination.”

The committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.), said that he supported the nomination and hoped Kautter would work on tax reform in a bipartisan way.

“It’s my hope that Mr. Kautter can help to bring Democrats and Republicans together,” he said.

Wyden and other Democrats had expressed concerns that Ernst and Young had marketed tax shelters to the wealthy while Kautter was director of national tax at the firm, which ended up paying more than $100 million as part of a settlement with the federal government.

Kautter said in his confirmation hearing that he wasn’t involved in Ernst and Young’s decision to work on tax shelters and didn’t design them himself. He also said that he wished he had been more active in speaking out against the firm’s practices.

“Looking back, I should have been more active. I think I should have played a bigger role. I think I should have been more vocal,” he said. “I spoke up whenever I had the opportunity, but I did not speak up as forcefully as I wish I had, and I feel bad about that.”

After the hearing, Kautter responded to additional questions about the tax shelters from Wyden. In his responses, reviewed by The Hill, Kautter said he would resign from the Treasury position if he felt he was in a situation where he couldn’t do his job in “an appropriate and ethical manner.”

Wyden said that Kautter “will be judged by his actions going forward.”

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