Brady outlines lame-duck tax priorities

Brady outlines lame-duck tax priorities
© Greg Nash

Outgoing House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyDemocrats, GOP spar over Treasury rules on Trump tax law Ex-HHS chief threatens to vote 'no' on surprise medical billing measure Bipartisan Ways and Means leaders unveil measure to stop surprise medical bills MORE (R-Texas) on Tuesday outlined several pieces of tax legislation he'd like to see enacted in the lame-duck session, though he said it was unclear how many of the items would be taken up in the remaining weeks of the year.

The lame-duck period marks Brady's final weeks as chairman of the tax-writing committee, since Democrats will have control of the House next year after regained control of the House in the midterm elections. Lawmakers returned to Washington on Tuesday to begin the lame-duck session. 

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Brady said he is hopeful that Congress can move legislation in the lame-duck session to make improvements to the IRS. There has been bipartisan interest in IRS legislation in both chambers, with the House passing legislation on the topic in April and key senators introducing bipartisan IRS reform bills over the summer.

Brady also said that he hopes to pursue legislation addressing expired tax breaks known as "extenders." More than two dozen tax breaks expired in 2017 and would need to be renewed in order for taxpayers to claim them on the returns they file next year. 

The House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on the provisions earlier this year in an effort to make a decision about which of the tax breaks should be made permanent and which should be eliminated following the enactment of Republicans' tax-cut law last year. Brady said that he's developed a "draft package" on extenders that he plans to discuss with other lawmakers.

Additionally, Brady expressed interest in pursuing legislation that makes technical corrections to the GOP tax law.

The business community has been urging Congress to pass legislation in the lame-duck session to fix drafting errors, including one that retailers and restaurants argue is hurting their ability to renovate their facilities. Brady said that a package with about 70-to-80 corrections, many of them minor, is close to being ready for review by lawmakers and stakeholders. 

Technical corrections legislation would need some Democratic votes to pass, and Democrats have said in the past that they'd like fixes to drafting errors in the tax law to be paired with more substantive changes.

In September, House Republicans passed a package of tax cuts known as "tax reform 2.0." Brady said he'd like to see action in the lame-duck session on parts of that package, particularly the bill that focused on incentives for families to save money for retirement and other purposes.

The savings bill passed the House largely along party lines, but there has been bipartisan interest in making it easier for families to save for retirement.

"I think we've done good bipartisan work there, with the Senate as well," he said.

But Brady acknowledged that the fate of the most prominent bill in that package, which would make the 2017 tax law's individual cuts permanent, is contingent on the bill having 60 votes in the Senate. Republicans in the Senate currently only hold 51 seats in the Upper Chamber.

Brady said it's hard to predict what legislation will be considered in the last few weeks of the year.

"What I can't predict is how long this lame-duck will go and what appetite there is," he said. "As you know, these things are very unpredictable. They can go a week or two or they can go to New Year's Eve."