Doug Sword

Chris Allen, Senate Finance Committee GOP tax aide, has died
Allen handled pensions and tax-exempt organizations issues under Finance Chairman Charles E. Grassley

Chris Allen, a Senate Finance Committee GOP tax aide, has died, according to his former boss, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan.

“Chris was beloved by everyone who had the privilege of meeting him,” Roberts said in a statement. “He had a brilliant mind, a generosity of spirit and a passion for serving the country in the United States Senate. His gentle soul made him an amazing husband, father, son, brother and friend.”

Businesses hit by mistaken tax penalty seek help from Congress
Drafting error in 2017 GOP tax overhaul hurt retail industry particularly hard

A one-word drafting error in the 2017 tax code overhaul has sent companies ranging from specialty retailer PetSmart Inc. to Nissan Motor Co. scrambling to Capitol Hill for relief.

As part of the effort to offset a dramatic reduction in the corporate tax rate in the 2017 law, Republicans limited the ability of firms to claim tax breaks on net operating losses, or when deductions exceed income.

Talking taxes 2020
CQ Budget, Ep. 138

Tax reporter Doug Sword sits down with guest host Jennifer Shutt to explain why Congress added so many tax bills to a massive spending package and what exactly those provisions will mean during the upcoming year. CQ Budget delves into what didn't make it into the package and predicts how far those provisions will advance in 2020.

Tax deal in hand, spending package grows in size
Targets expiring tax breaks for biodiesel, distilleries, racehorses and butane

A deal on tax extenders reached late Monday by top Capitol Hill and White House officials would renew most expired or expiring tax provisions through 2020, with a longer extension for lapsed biodiesel and short-line railroad maintenance credits through 2022.

Adoption of the rule for floor debate on an eight-bill spending package set for floor consideration Tuesday will incorporate the tax package, which will also carry disaster aid provisions and a couple of fixes to the 2017 tax law.

Craft distillers, retailers wait anxiously for tax extenders
Stakeholders predict layoffs, hiring freezes if deal is not struck by end of year

Republican Rep. Denver Riggleman says a looming tax increase on small craft distillers will lead to layoffs at the distillery his family operates in Afton, Virginia, where they make a handful of spirits with colorful names like Strange Monkey Gin and Blackback Bourbon.

And Jeff Quint, a Swisher, Iowa, distillery owner who makes bourbon from corn grown on his family farm, says the demise of the small distillers’ break will force him to rethink new hires he’d been planning.

House Democrats to move on temporary ‘SALT’ cap increase
Ways and Means panel could take up legislation as early as next week, Pascrell says

The House Ways and Means Committee could take up legislation as early as next week that would increase a limit on state and local tax deductions that has riled Democrats from high-cost regions, according to a senior panel member.

The “SALT” bill, which has not yet been released, is still in flux, but the $10,000 deduction limit set by the Republican-backed tax code overhaul would be raised to an as-yet undetermined level for three years, according to Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr.. A final figure hasn’t been decided on, the New Jersey Democrat said, describing it as “maybe $15,000 or $20,000, whatever that figure’s going to be.”

Disputed butane tax credit could cost nearly $50 billion
Estimate from Joint Committee on Taxation could give stalled tax extenders talks new urgency

The Treasury now stands to take a $49.9 billion hit if oil refiners prevail in their claims that gasoline mixed with butane qualifies as an alternative fuel eligible for a 50 cents per gallon federal tax credit.

The new estimate was revealed in a letter sent Wednesday from Thomas Barthold, chief of staff to the Joint Committee on Taxation, to attorneys for the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees.

House Democrats feeling the heat on ‘SALT’ cap rollback
Democrats still haven’t touched the cap on state and local tax deductions

It’s been almost a year since Democrats assumed control of the House, and they still haven’t touched the cap on state and local tax deductions imposed by the GOP Congress and President Donald Trump that disproportionately affect blue state districts.

That’s starting to become a problem for the dozen or so freshman Democrats who flipped GOP seats after campaigning in part on getting rid of that $10,000 “SALT” limit, which was included as an offset for the 2017 tax code overhaul.

Democrats prepare to duel McConnell over year-end wish list
Amid push for legislation benefiting Kentucky constituents, Dems seek their own concessions

As former Sen. Wendell Ford often said, with small variations: “Kentucky is beautiful women, fast horses, bourbon whiskey, cigarettes and coal. I represent Kentucky, and that’s what I represent.”

The colorful Ford, a Democrat who died in 2015, had little else in common with Mitch McConnell, the stoic Kentucky Republican who served as the junior senator from the Bluegrass State alongside Ford for 15 years until the latter’s 1999 retirement. But the Senate majority leader is clearly taking a few pages from Ford’s playbook in the year-end legislative scramble as he heads into a potentially difficult reelection campaign in 2020.

Top Republicans say costs a hurdle to bipartisan tax deal
GOP leaders say House Democrats want too much in return for movement on a bill to renew tax breaks known as extenders

Republican leaders say House Democrats are asking for too much in return for movement on a bill to renew 30-plus tax breaks known collectively as extenders.

Senate Finance Chairman Charles E. Grassley said his office estimates one version of the House Democrats’ request at $710 billion for a package that would make both the tax extenders and a proposal by House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal, D-Mass., permanent.

Senate rejects repeal of state and local tax deduction cap rule
43-52 vote was mostly along party lines

The Senate rejected an attempt to repeal a Treasury Department rule that thwarts workarounds employed by several states to bypass the $10,000 limitation on state and local taxes that was a key feature of the 2017 tax code overhaul.

The 43-52 vote Wednesday was mostly along party lines, though Kentucky Republican Rand Paul crossed the aisle to vote for the Democrats’ measure, while Colorado’s Michael Bennet, a 2020 Democratic presidential contender, voted against it.

Democrats seeking votes in Trump country tout miners’ benefits
As Republicans prepare a coal pension fix proposal, Democrats push for more

Senate Republicans say they’re close to unveiling a plan to address a $66 billion funding shortfall affecting coal miners’ and other union pension plans, an issue Democrats see as advantageous politically and as a possible bargaining chip in trade talks with the Trump administration.

President Donald Trump championed manufacturing and coal industry jobs during his 2016 campaign, including in critical swing states he won like Pennsylvania and Ohio. In the 2020 campaign, Democrats have been touting “broken promises” to workers in those states and others, including more traditional GOP bastions like Kentucky where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is up for reelection next year. 

Local newspapers wait anxiously for pension funding relief
Crucial retirement savings package appears stuck in the Senate

Local newspapers serving communities from Tampa, Florida, to Walla Walla, Washington, say they’re under the gun from a pension funding “cliff” they face next year that will make them have to rapidly catch up on required contributions, exacerbating their well-documented financial decline.

When relief for some 20 publishers passed the House in May on a 417-3 vote as part of sweeping retirement savings legislation, it seemed like a slam dunk that lawmakers would ride to the rescue in time.

Trump gets temporary stay after judge rules for DA in tax records case
Judge had ruled earlier Monday against Trump’s efforts to block Manhattan DA’s subpoena for his taxes and other financial info

President Donald Trump won a temporary stay of an earlier court ruling Monday to compel release of his tax returns to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York granted the motion due to “the unique issues raised by this appeal,” which had been filed by Trump’s lawyers in the morning seeking an answer by 1 p.m.

State and local tax cap rollback included in year-end tax talks
Democrats leading SALT discussions say they hope to have legislation ready for markup in October

A senior House Ways and Means Democrat said Wednesday that a full, though temporary, elimination of the current $10,000 cap on annual state and local tax deductions is among the proposals being discussed for a possible markup in the coming weeks.

Committee Democrats also discussed in a Wednesday caucus meeting how a “SALT” rollback and a raft of other tax legislation the committee has advanced or will soon consider might fit into a deal later this year with Senate Republicans, and what offsets might be offered as part of any package, said Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-New Jersey.

Ways and Means to weigh rollback of state, local tax deduction cap
SALT cap in 2017 overhaul law hit taxpayers in high-tax states especially hard

Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee will soon hold “at least a full-throttle discussion” about their concerns with the $10,000 cap on state and local income tax deductions that was part of the 2017 tax code overhaul, though it is uncertain whether that will lead to legislation that would increase or even repeal the limit.

Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal of Massachusetts told reporters Tuesday that the Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee would be taking up the issue “pretty quick.”

Ways and Means chairman cites ‘credible allegations’ of misconduct in presidential tax audit
Allegation cited in filing in battle between House Democrats and Treasury over access to returns

The House Ways and Means Committee said it had received “credible allegations” from a federal employee of potentially “inappropriate efforts to influence” the IRS’ mandatory audit of presidential tax returns.

References to the unexplained allegations were in a letter included in a Tuesday filing by the committee in its federal lawsuit against Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig. The filing consisted of arguments in support of the committee’s motion for the court to grant it summary judgment in its lawsuit seeking six years of tax returns from President Trump and from eight of his businesses.

Trying to conceal tax returns, Trump sees political coordination in subpoenas
President accuses New York officials of working with House Democrats to damage him

President Donald Trump says New York Attorney General Letitia James is “closely coordinating with House Democrats in a joint effort to obtain and expose” the president’s tax returns and financial information.

The allegation came in a filing Monday in federal district court in Washington as Trump amended the July 23 lawsuit he brought to block James and Michael R. Schmidt, commissioner of New York state’s Department of Taxation and Finance, from providing the president’s state tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee.

Senate Democrats push repeal of state and local tax rule
The $10,000 state tax deduction limit was a key feature of the 2017 tax code overhaul

Senate Democrats will push to repeal a Treasury Department and IRS rule, which goes into effect Aug. 11, that they say would “block critical state workarounds” to the $10,000 limitation on state and local tax deductions.

The $10,000 deduction limit was a key feature of the 2017 tax code overhaul, and has been the subject of hearings in the House Ways and Means Committee where Democratic members are urging a repeal of that provision.

Eyeing Trump taxes, House panel releases Nixon documents
Kevin Brady, top Ways and Means Republican, calls move “a travesty”

The House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday released documents relating to a Dec. 13, 1973, request by the Joint Committee on Taxation for President Richard Nixon’s tax returns that show five years of returns were provided the same day by the IRS.

Committee Democrats said the significance of the documents is that Nixon’s tax returns and other private tax information were handed over to what was then called the Joint Committee on Internal Revenue Taxation because of authority under Section 6103 of the tax code.