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News & Press: General

Eyes on Washington: December 18th, 2017

Tuesday, December 19, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: TCAA Staff
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December 18, 2017


In This Issue:

·         The Week Ahead

·         House and Senate Prepare to Vote on Final Tax Bill

·         Government Funding Set to Expire; House and Senate Introduce Continuing Resolutions


The Week Ahead


While the House and Senate floor schedules for this week remain fluid, Congress is targeting December 22, 2017, as the beginning of the holiday recess. Before leaving for the year, Congress must still resolve multiple pending legislative deadlines and will vote on a tax reform bill. The Second Session of the 115th Congress will convene on January 3, 2018. 


Eyes on Washington will not be published on December 25 or January 1, and will return on January 8, 2018. 


House and Senate Prepare to Vote on Final Tax Bill


House and Senate Republicans have reached consensus on The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The compromise on the tax reform bill was reached without input from Democratic conferees, and the Conference Committee only held one pro forma meeting on December 13, 2017. Following a series of caucus meetings, details of the final bill were made public in the evening of December 15, 2017, with the release of the conference report. Changes in the final plan were included to appease several Republican holdouts, including Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), who sought a greater refund for the Child Tax Credit. Democratic members have maintained their opposition to the bill, though it is expected to move through Congress as Republicans have reportedly secured votes to aid its passage. 


Senate Budget Committee Chairman Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.) said rank-and-file Republicans were briefed on the report through the weekend of December 15, 2017. Despite previous potential obstacles to a Senate vote, including the health-related absences of Sens. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), the Senate is anticipated to proceed with voting on Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning. Vice President Mike Pence announced on December 14, 2017, that he would delay a previously scheduled trip to preside over the Senate vote, a sign that Senate Republicans are expecting a tie-breaking vote may be necessary. 


The final agreement has retained more provisions from the Senate's version of the bill, though Conference Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said the final bill marked a mix between House and Senate plans. Democrats argue that the bill would be a break for corporations and wealthy individuals; House Democrats have also said Democratic support is not guaranteed for waiving some mandatory spending cuts that would be enacted without congressional action, because of the projected impact the bill would have on the deficit. 


Below are relevant provisions from the conference report:


House Bill

Senate Bill

Conference Report

Corporate Tax Rate

Decreased from 35 percent to 20 percent, taking effect in 2018


Decreased from 35 percent to 20 percent, taking effect in 2019


Decreased from 35 percent to 21 percent, taking effect in 2018


Individual Rates


12 percent, 25 percent, 35 percent, 39.6 percent


10 percent, 12 percent, 22 percent, 24 percent, 32 percent, 35 percent, 38.5 percent


Seven rates, starting at 10 percent and reaching 37 percent for incomes above $500,000 for singles and $600,000 for married and joint filers


The seven rates are: 10 percent, 12 percent, 22 percent, 24 percent, 32 percent, 35 percent and 37 percent

Personal Exemptions



Repealed through December 31, 2025

Suspended through 2025


State and local tax deductions


Repealed, except for property and sales taxes in operating a trade or business, and for up to $10,000 in other property taxes

Same as House


Allows a property tax deduction, in addition to deducting either income taxes or sales taxes, up to a $10,000 limit for all combined


Charitable deductions


Increases limit on cash contributions to qualified organizations from 50 percent to 60 percent of taxable income

Allows adjustments to vehicle mileage rate in connection with providing volunteer services


Denies deduction for purchase of college athletic seating rights

Same as House, except no change to mileage rate and provisions expire after December 31, 2025


Increases the limit on the amount of charitable cash contributions a taxpayer can deduct to 60 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI), from 50 percent, through 2025


Charitable contributions to colleges could no longer be deducted if the donation was related to seating at an athletic event


Corporate Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)








Corporations could continue to use their AMT credits to offset their regular tax liability.


Credits would be partially refundable in tax years 2018 through 2021.

Individual AMT




Repealed through December 31, 2025


Retained; increasing the exemption to $500,000 for single taxpayers and $1 million for couples

From 2018 through 2025, a higher AMT exemption would apply to income, beginning with $109,400 for joint filers and $70,300 for other taxpayers in 2018.


Thresholds would be adjusted for inflation using the chained consumer price index.

Private Activity Bonds

Repealed for new bonds issued after December 31, 2017

No change




Tax Credit Bonds


Authority to issue New Clean Renewable Energy Bonds


Qualified energy conservation bonds, qualified zone academy bonds and qualified school construction bonds are repealed

No change



Preserves governmental use bonds issued to finance professional sports stadiums


Eliminates tax-exempt advance refunding bonds


Student Loan Interest


Above-the-line deductions for student loan interest and qualified tuition expenses repealed

No change




Medical Expense Deductions

Repeals deduction for medical expenses that exceed 10 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI)

Maintains medical expense deduction through December 31, 2025


Reduce the threshold to 7.5 percent of AGI for tax years 2017 and 2018


Affordable Care Act (ACA) Individual Mandate

No change




Repealed after 2019


Estate Tax


Doubles estate tax exemption after December 31, 2017; repeals after December 31, 2024

Doubles estate tax exemption after December 31, 2017, through December 31, 2025

Retained, with exemptions doubled


The higher thresholds would be phased out in 2026

Child Tax Credit


$1,600 per child under the age of 17 not indexed, refundable up to $1,000 indexed to next $100


$300 nonrefundable family credit for each parent and nonchild dependent, not indexed expires after December 31, 2022

$2,000 per child under the age of 18, not indexed, refundable up to $1,000, indexed to next $100

$500 nonrefundable credit for nonchild dependents


Double the credit to $2,000 and provide it for each child under 18 through 2024


Raise the phaseout amount to $500,000


Cap the refundable portion at $1,400 in 2018


Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit




Restores the credit, which it previously proposed to cut from 20 percent to 10 percent, with a 10 percent credit for pre-1936 buildings


Repealed for nonresidential pre-1936 properties


Investors would claim the credit over five years


New Markets Tax Credit





Retains 2018 and 2019 allocations

Renewable Energy Investment Tax Credit







Business pass-throughs


Maximum 25 percent rate on qualified business income, other than income from personal services


17.4 percent deduction of domestic nonservice income, capped at 50 percent of taxpayer's total share of wages paid by business


A 20 percent deduction can be applied to business income, available to business owners who are married and have an income less than $315,000 or less, or half that ($157,500) for single taxpayers

Mortgage Interest Deduction


Deductions for second home, home equity debt repealed


Limits applicability to principal residence debt up to $500,000

Repeals deduction for home equity debt through December 31, 2025


Deductible mortgage interest for new purchases of homes capped at $750,000



The House Rules Committee will meet in the evening of December 18, 2017, to set the rule for floor consideration, and it is expected that the House will vote on the conference report the next day. The Senate will begin consideration of the report on the afternoon of December 19, 2017, and has up to 10 hours of debate. It is expected that the Senate will vote on the evening of December 19, 2017, unless all 10 hours of debate are used. 


Government Funding Set to Expire; House and Senate Introduce Continuing Resolutions


Government funding is set to expire on December 22, 2017. With work on a final FY 2018 appropriations omnibus still ongoing, the Senate is preparing to pass another continuing resolution (CR) until January 19, 2018. The legislation is not expected to include the House-passed Defense appropriations bill, nor a measure reauthorizing the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Moreover, the CR may not include topline spending levels to aid in the preparation of a final spending bill. 


Separately, House Republicans introduced a CR on December 13, 2017, which extends current government funding until January 19, 2018. It included the Defense appropriations bill, additional funding for missile defense as requested by the administration, and a House CHIP bill, as well as $2.1 billion for the Veterans Choice Program. Democrats have argued against including CHIP in the House bill, as it seeks offsets by increasing Medicare premiums for higher-income beneficiaries, and shortens the grace period for individuals to pay their premiums through a tax credit. Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Chairman John Boozman (R-Ark.) said the Senate is unlikely to pass the House bill, explaining the Senate's decision to work on their own CR. Senate Commerce Justice-Science Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) also indicated that if the House does not attach a third disaster relief aid bill to its CR, then Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) will attach it to a Senate bill. The Senate will also add an extension of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which is set to expire this year. 


Democrats have also criticized the lack of inclusion of a legislative fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that a bipartisan immigration deal may advance separately, citing positive negotiations between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats have said they will not fund President Donald Trump's proposed border wall, but an immigration deal may include funding increases for border security. It is not likely that DACA reform legislation will be introduced before the end of the year, given the already packed congressional schedule.  

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