|On July 8, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) released reports from the five bipartisan working groups the Committee established earlier this year to develop policy options and recommendations for it to consider as part of comprehensive tax reform. The reports focused on individual income, business income, savings and investment, international taxes, and community development and infrastructure.
The Community Development and Infrastructure Working Group’s jurisdiction included the Housing Credit and tax-exempt bonds, including Housing Bonds. The Working Group’s report, filed by its co-chairs, Senators Dean Heller (R-NV) and Michael Bennet (D-CO), includes descriptions of the Housing Credit and Bond programs, but does not offer options or recommendations for changes to them. The Working Group proposes no changes to most of the programs in its jurisdiction, saying, “Although our group was not able to reach bipartisan recommendations in each of these areas, we feel each of these parts should be heavily focused on as fundamental tax reform moves forward.”
The report does present interim and long-term funding alternatives for the Highway Trust Fund, which Congress must reauthorize by July 31 when the current authorization runs out. The report also states, “Given the substantial amount of work and time put into these working groups, both co-chairs may release bipartisan legislative proposals in the near term.”
In the Committee’s announcement, Hatch and Wyden thanked the working groups for their efforts and said they would use the groups’ reports as they continue to pursue tax reform. Many congressional leaders have commented over the last several weeks that comprehensive tax reform is unlikely this year or even before 2017.
With comprehensive tax reform doubtful in the short-term, both the House and Senate tax committees are developing plans to draft legislation to extend expired and expiring tax provisions before the end of the year. A Senate Finance Committee markup of such legislation is likely in the next few weeks. The House Ways and Means Committee, which is likely to markup an extenders bill this fall, has reported already this year several bills to extend permanently some business-related expiring provisions and is likely to include those permanent extensions in legislation with some short-term extensions of other provisions.