By Mindie Reule
Program Manager, Public Policy
Over the past weeks there have been several new developments in the tax reform process, including: an announcement of a “blank slate” approach to tax reform, the announcement of a road trip, and the release of an options paper. Keep reading for the details.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) announced that they are going to take a “blank slate” approach to tax reform—described as “a tax code without all of the special provisions in the form of exclusions, deductions and credits and other preferences.” In a letter from the two Senators released on Thursday, June 27, they ask their colleagues to submit legislative language or detailed proposals for what tax expenditures and other provisions should be added back in to a reformed tax code. The Senators state that “This blank slate is not, of course the end of the discussion,” and go on to say, “Indeed, we both believe that some existing tax expenditures should be preserved in some form. But the tax code is also littered with preferences for special interests.” The Senators ask their colleagues for their suggestions and submissions by July 26, 2013. You can read an article from the Washington Post on the announcement here.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI)—the House and Senate committees that will lead the charge on tax reform—have announced that they’re taking a road trip. The two members of Congress will be traveling around the United States this summer, together, to hear from people and businesses about ideas for changing the tax code. You can read more about the trip from Politico’s, “Tax Reform Talks Hit the Road.” Baucus and Camp have also created a website (taxreform.gov) and a twitter handle @simplertaxes where they’re asking the public for input and ideas regarding tax reform.
Over the course of the spring, the Senate Finance Committee released 10 tax reform options papers, including one on tax-exempt organizations and charitable giving. These papers are part of the process by Chairman Baucus and Ranking Member Hatch to lead the rest of the Senate Finance Committee in discussions about options for changing the tax code. The paper on tax-exempt organizations and charitable giving, like the other papers, doesn’t state which options are most likely to go forward or most preferred by the committee, but rather lists the options that have been suggested over the past several years for reforming the code. The paper lists possibilities for changing the charitable deduction, the taxation of business activities of nonprofits, political activity and lobbying of tax-exempt organizations, and other broad issues related to tax-exempt organizations. The paper also includes links with more detailed descriptions of each option.
If you are interested in talking to your member of Congress about how tax reform affects your organization or about the importance of the nonprofit sector and charitable giving in the United States, now is the time! Schedule a meeting while your member of Congress is home for the August recess. Philanthropy Northwest will be organizing a few meetings as well. Contact me if you are interested in participating or would like more information about this topic. You can also get the latest news for philanthropy and policy on Twitter, using the hashtag #PNWPublicPolicy.