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 MnuchinBloomberg proposes financial transaction tax GOP senators offering bill to cement business provision in Trump tax law On The Money: Deficit spikes 25 percent through January | Mnuchin declines to say why Trump pulled Treasury nominee who oversaw Roger Stone case | Lawmakers trade insults over Trump budget cuts MORE and acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought.

The senators who signed the letter were Democrats Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenErnst endorses bipartisan Grassley-Wyden bill to lower drug prices Senate Dems blast Barr for 'clear violation' of duty in Stone case, urge him to resign Overnight Health Care: Nevada union won't endorse before caucuses after 'Medicare for All' scrap | McConnell tees up votes on two abortion bills | CDC confirms 15th US coronavirus case MORE (Ore.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownTrump pick for Fed seat takes bipartisan fire On The Money: Deficit spikes 25 percent through January | Mnuchin declines to say why Trump pulled Treasury nominee who oversaw Roger Stone case | Lawmakers trade insults over Trump budget cuts Mnuchin defends Treasury regulations on GOP tax law MORE (Ohio), Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyDemocratic senators ask FDA to ban device used to shock disabled students Trump under pressure to renew last nuke treaty with Russia Celebrating and expanding upon five years of the ABLE  Act MORE Jr. (Pa.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseDemocrats pan Trump's budget proposal as 'dead on arrival' Trump unveils .8 trillion budget that backtracks on deal with Congress End of impeachment trial to leave deep scars in Senate MORE (R.I.) and Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoDSCC endorses McGrath in race against McConnell Democrats press Trump official for answers on ObamaCare replacement plan Senators urge Fed chief to tackle shortcomings of steady economy 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.