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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 MnuchinOn The Money: Schumer urges Democrats to stick together on .9T bill | Collins rules out GOP support for Biden relief plan | Powell fights inflation fears Mnuchin expected to launch investment fund seeking backing from Persian Gulf region: report Larry Kudlow debuts to big ratings on Fox Business Network MORE and acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought.

The senators who signed the letter were Democrats Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHouse Democrats pass sweeping .9T COVID-19 relief bill with minimum wage hike House set for tight vote on COVID-19 relief package On The Money: Democrats scramble to save minimum wage hike | Personal incomes rise, inflation stays low after stimulus burst MORE (Ore.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownDemocrats: Minimum wage isn't the only issue facing parliamentarian Menendez reintroduces corporate diversity bill Former Ohio GOP chairwoman Jane Timken launches Senate bid MORE (Ohio), Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyRepublicans see Becerra as next target in confirmation wars Senate Democrats call on GAO to review child care access barriers for disabled parents, kids Democrats blast Trump team videos: 'False equivalency'  MORE Jr. (Pa.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseBiden nominee previews post-Trump trade agenda Tucker Carlson bashes CNN, claims it's 'more destructive' than QAnon Garland seeks to draw sharp contrast with Trump-era DOJ MORE (R.I.) and Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Mars rover prepares for landing The Hill's Morning Report - Democrats ready mammoth relief bill for 10-day sprint Senate Republicans target Democrats over school reopenings in new campaign 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.