Tax Break

Top tax Republican works for “jumping off” point to tax reform post-election

May 11, 2012

Top House Republican tax-writers are working full-tilt on a plan to have in place in case talk turns to a tax code overhaul after the Nov. 6 elections, a top tax aide said on Friday.

“Pretty much everybody on our tax staff is doing tax reform,” Ray Beeman, tax counsel to Representative Dave Camp, told lawyers at an American Bar Association meeting in Washington.

“We want to put ourselves into the best position we can be in, in the lame duck in the event that the focus turns to tax reform as a way of getting out of this fiscal cul-de-sac,” he said.

That “fiscal cul-de-sac” refers to the expiration of lower rates on individual and investment income enacted under former President George W. Bush and renewed by President Barack Obama and scheduled across-the-board spending cuts, among other fiscal deadlines converging at year’s end.

Camp wants a comprehensive plan to serve as a “jumping off point” for movement on the issue in 2013, Beeman said.

No one believes a broad revamp of the tax code will happen before, or in the brief period after, the elections before the deadlines. But some say the need to get a deal on these issues could push tax reform front and center – perhaps putting language into any deal that could force action.

Such language could set a date by which a plan to revamp the tax code must be forged, making it painful for both Democrats and Republicans if they fail to act.

Camp has a collegial relationship with his counterpart on the Senate side, Senator Max Baucus, chairman of that body’s finance committee.

Asked if that bond could help lawmakers get past the partisan rancor that has halted progress on most things in the current Congress, Beeman said it remains to be seen.

Baucus and Camp served together on various deal-making committees put in place to avoid fiscal crises over the past year, including the so-called bipartisan “supercommittee.”

“When you think of what has happened over the past year they’d have to have a good relationship or they probably would have killed each other,” he said.

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