Sept. 22, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Life and Death to Taxes

“We’re going to have to give some certainty to people,” Lincoln said. “If we don’t give assurances to some of these businesses and industries that they’re going to be able to have predictability, then we’re not helping the economy; we’re hindering it.”

Enacting an extenders bill requires reciprocation in the House. A spokesman for Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) would not say whether the committee would take up the issue this year.

In the Finance panel, Lincoln also expects Baucus to take on tax reform this fall. The issue could come up in the context of legislation the chairman introduced in March that freezes the estate tax, makes permanent marginal rate cuts enacted in 2001, and tweaks investment breaks signed into law in 2003.

“The chairman has said that he will work to move his proposal this year,” a Baucus aide said.

Baucus’ counterpart, Finance ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), predicts only one major tax bill will emerge from the committee this year and that it will be a freeze on the estate tax. Overall tax reform is not on his radar.

“We’re going to have one big one, and it’s going to be around the estate tax,” Grassley said.

Baucus is also shopping a proposal that cracks down on offshore tax evasion, which could help pay for some of his broader initiatives. The chairman has already hosted a hearing on the subject and may look to move a bill in the coming months.

“The chairman recently announced a preliminary draft of legislation to address offshore noncompliance by giving the IRS better tools — like additional reporting requirements — to detect fraud before it happens,” the Baucus aide said. “Once stakeholders are able to provide sufficient feedback on the proposal we will consider next steps, including any possible additional hearings.”

Tangential to Baucus’ evasion bill is an item in Obama’s budget ending certain tax deferrals for overseas businesses that, in effect, allow them to delay payment of taxes on some income. The president’s number cruncher expects the plan to generate $210 billion in additional tax revenue for the government over the next 10 years.

Characterizing deferral as evasion will be a hard sell in Congress, and even some Democrats argue that some deferral is vital for economic growth. Grassley is looking to repeal deferrals that don’t meet the “economic substance” standard, a benchmark used for determining if the delay in paying tax earned overseas is legitimate or merely a form of tax evasion.

“We’re going to look at everything that doesn’t have economic substance and close every loophole that doesn’t have economic substance,” Grassley said.

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