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 MnuchinFive questions about the next COVID-19 relief package Senate Republicans call on DOJ to investigate Planned Parenthood loans The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Surgeon General stresses need to invest much more in public health infrastructure, during and after COVID-19; Fauci hopeful vaccine could be deployed in December MORE and acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought.

The senators who signed the letter were Democrats Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: Tech companies lead way on WFH forever | States and counties plead for cybersecurity assistance | Trump weighing anti-conservative bias panel House to consider amendment blocking warrantless web browsing surveillance COVID-19 increases importance of implementing reforms to organ donation system MORE (Ore.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownSenators offer bill to prevent relief payments from being seized by private debt collectors Congress headed toward unemployment showdown Rollout of new anti-redlining rules sparks confusion in banking industry MORE (Ohio), Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyHillicon Valley: Uber to lay off thousands of employees | Facebook content moderation board announces members | Lawmakers introduce bill to cut down online child exploitation Democrats introduce legislation to protect children from online exploitation Senators urge Pompeo, Perdue to back global food programs amid coronavirus pandemic MORE Jr. (Pa.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseSenate Judiciary Committee calls for national safety guidelines amid liability hearing Democrats ask for investigation of DOJ decision to drop Flynn case McConnell under mounting GOP pressure to boost state aid MORE (R.I.) and Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoThe Memo: Activists press Biden on VP choice Demings says she's on Biden's VP short list The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Mnuchin, Powell: Economy may need more boost; Trump defends malaria drug 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.