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Senate Democrats launch investigation into Trump tax law regulations

A group of Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee are pressing the Trump administration over regulations implementing the international provisions of the president's 2017 tax-cut law, seeking information about the extent to which lobbying influenced the rules.

"It now appears that Treasury and the OMB are using the new system’s complexity as a means to give even more tax cuts to corporations through the secretive regulatory process where corporations and their armies of lobbyists exercise undue influence," the senators wrote in a Thursday letter to Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinPelosi dismisses talk of White House compromise on stimulus: They 'keep moving the goal post' Sunday shows preview: Trump, Biden gear up for final sprint to Election Day Hillicon Valley: Treasury sanctions Russian group accused of targeting critical facilities | Appeals court rules Uber, Lyft must comply with labor laws | Biden: Countries that target US elections will 'pay a price' MORE and acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought.

The senators who signed the letter were Democrats Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenPlaintiff and defendant from Obergefell v. Hodges unite to oppose Barrett's confirmation Senate Democrats call for ramped up Capitol coronavirus testing House Democrats slam FCC chairman over 'blatant attempt to help' Trump MORE (Ore.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownBrown says Biden's first moves as president should be COVID relief, voting rights Senators battle over Supreme Court nominee in rare Saturday session Sunday shows preview: Trump, Biden gear up for final sprint to Election Day MORE (Ohio), Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseySenate Democrats hold talkathon to protest Barrett's Supreme Court nomination Two Loeffler staffers test positive for COVID-19 Healthcare, retirement security seen as top issues for older voters, lawmakers say MORE Jr. (Pa.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseSenators battle over Supreme Court nominee in rare Saturday session Democrats, gun control groups attack NRA for efforts to reshape judiciary Hillicon Valley: Threatening emails raise election concerns | Quibi folds after raising nearly B | Trump signs law making it a crime to hack voting systems MORE (R.I.) and Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoCortez Masto's public lands giveaway greenwash Democratic Senate campaign arm outraises GOP counterpart in September Hillicon Valley: DOJ proposes tech liability shield reform to Congress | Treasury sanctions individuals, groups tied to Russian malign influence activities | House Republican introduces bill to set standards for self-driving cars MORE (Nev.). Wyden serves as the top Democrat on the Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over taxes.

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Trump's tax law slashed the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, and included international tax provisions aimed at making the U.S. tax system more competitive while also preventing an erosion of the tax base. No Democrats voted for the bill because they viewed it as predominantly benefiting wealthy individuals and corporations.

A New York Times article published late last month reported that following a corporate lobbying blitz, Treasury Department issued regulations about the international provisions that will allow the companies to have smaller tax bills than had been anticipated under the 2017 law. This article drew concerns from the Democratic senators.

"Not long after the bill became law in December 2017, the Trump administration began transforming the tax package into a greater windfall for the world’s largest corporations and their shareholders," reads a portion of the Times article that was cited in the Democrats' letter.

The senators wrote that the GOP tax law included a number of glitches and mistakes, and "the Treasury Department’s willingness to rewrite the law at the behest of the largest corporations and their lobbyists only serves to compound these harms."

The senators asked Mnuchin and Vought for information about communications from lobbyists regarding the tax law's international provisions, meetings in which senior Treasury and OMB officials discussed the international provisions, and any analyses of the impact of regulations about the international provisions on federal revenues.

When the Times's story was published, the Treasury Department issued a statement criticizing the article as "unbalanced." Treasury spokeswoman Monica Crowley said in the statement that the department had met with taxpayers and their representatives during the rule-making process, but the Treasury Department wasn't influenced by any specific company or group.