Senate GOP urges non-legislative fixes for tax law

Senate GOP urges non-legislative fixes for tax law
© Greg Nash

Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday sought to tackle errors in their signature tax law through a letter meant to clarify Congress’s intent in passing the law.

The letter to the IRS and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinTrump announces tariffs on 0B in Chinese goods Trump: China tariff announcement to come Monday afternoon Trump could hit China with tariffs of 0 billion as soon as Monday MORE was meant “to provide sufficient clarification” on three parts of the law, which was rushed through Congress on a relatively short timeline last year.

The GOP lawmakers hope the letter can be used by Treasury as the basis for writing rules clarifying mistakes in the law.

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Republicans hope to pass legislation making technical corrections to the law before the end of the year, but will need to win some Democrat support to get the legislation through the Senate.

“After this review, we intend to introduce technical corrections legislation to address any items identified in the on-going review,” the letter said.

The Finance Committee focused on three specific fixes.

The first regarded a drafting error that would make retailers and restaurant owners write off investment costs over a 39-year period instead of one year. 

The second pertains to the starting point for when businesses could carry back net operating costs, which some businesses said created a retroactive tax. 

The third was to ensure that a section meant to ban businesses from deducting legal fees related to sexual harassment nondisclosure agreements does not apply to victims of sexual harassment.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) applauded the step.

“For months, we’ve seen many retailers delay job-creating investments across the country due to the uncertainty caused by these drafting errors,” said the NRF's David French.

Democrats, who opposed the law, may not be ready to work with the GOP on fixes.

Rep. Richard NealRichard Edmund NealHouse panel advances key bill in new round of GOP tax cuts For Capuano in Massachusetts, demography was destiny House lawmakers unveil 'Tax Reform 2.0' ahead of midterms MORE (D-Mass.), the ranking member on the House Ways and Means Committee, said he would insist on hearings to discuss technical corrections.