Dems concerned Trump officials may pressure IRS on withholdings

Dems concerned Trump officials may pressure IRS on withholdings
© Greg Nash

The top Democrats on Congress's tax-writing committees are concerned the Trump administration may pressure the IRS to produce withholding tables that would benefit Republicans politically but ultimately cause people to owe taxes next year.

In a letter to acting IRS Commissioner David Kautter on Monday, Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenRestlessness, light rule-breaking and milk spotted on Senate floor as impeachment trial rolls on Hillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — UN calls for probe into alleged Saudi hack of Bezos | Experts see effort to 'silence' Washington Post | Bezos tweets tribute to Khashoggi Bezos tweets tribute to Khashoggi in wake of reports of Saudi phone hacking MORE (D-Ore.) and Rep. Richard NealRichard Edmund NealKey House committee chairman to meet with Mnuchin on infrastructure next week Coalition of conservative groups to air ads against bipartisan proposal to end 'surprise' medical bills House revives agenda after impeachment storm MORE (D-Mass.) said they are worried that the Treasury Department "may unduly influence the new withholding tables for the 2018 tax year in a manner that will result in millions of taxpayers receiving larger after-tax paychecks this election year but ultimately owing federal income tax when they file in 2019."

The IRS is expected to release guidance this month on tax withholdings from employee's paychecks that reflect the new tax law President TrumpDonald John TrumpMnuchin knocks Greta Thunberg's activism: Study economics and then 'come back' to us The Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' What to watch for on Day 3 of Senate impeachment trial MORE signed last month.

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Republicans have said that the new tax-cut law will become more popular with the public once withholding tables are adjusted and people see greater take-home pay. GOP lawmakers and administration officials are hoping that the tax cuts will give Republicans a boost in November's midterm elections.

Wyden and Neal said they don't want Treasury to push the IRS to release withholding tables that take out an insufficient amount of taxes. In addition to serving as acting IRS commissioner, Kautter is the assistant secretary for tax policy at Treasury.

If taxes are not sufficiently withheld, people may get the appearance this year that they received a large tax cut, but will have to pay money to the IRS next year, the lawmakers said.

"For many families, IRS tables that withhold too little in taxes during the year present a considerable problem and undue hardship," Wyden and Neal wrote.

Neal and Wyden asked the IRS to provide them with information by Jan. 12 about Treasury Department officials' review of the forthcoming withholding tables.

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The Democrats also sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office, asking that agency to review the withholding tables to ensure they are adequate.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyConservative groups aim to sink bipartisan fix to 'surprise' medical bills Trump economic aide says new tax proposal could be unveiled this summer Hoyer: Democratic chairmen trying to bridge divide on surprise medical bills MORE (R-Texas) said he was confident that the IRS would produce timely, accurate withholding tables.

"I think the bottom line here is Democrats so object to Americans keeping more of what they earn at work, they'll do and say just about anything to cast doubt on it," he told reporters Monday.

— updated at 4:28 p.m.