Washington DC – In a closed door, off the record meeting at an undisclosed Washington location last week a member of the Senate Finance Committee lamented what we already knew…Tax Reform is dead in the water this year.
With Senate Finance Chair Max Baucus about to be confirmed as the US Ambassador to China, the chairman leaves behind a lack luster campaign to at least attempt corporate tax reform. Counterpart Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) lead the way on Ways & Means by seeking stakeholder input for the last three years on tax reform and forming commissions to seek out ideas and gather feedback. Senate Finance did not move forward at the same pace. Some might even argue that Senate Finance didn’t move at all.
With Senator Ron Wyden assenting to the chairmanship on Senate Finance we have an opportunity to restart the conversation, while monitoring the goings on in the House where Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has indicated he would seek to chair Ways & Means next year.
Wyden has a head start this time, with a bill already written for tax reform that remains silent on the estate tax. At the time he and Senator Coates (R-IN) worked on their draft bill, the only agreement among both sides was not to touch the estate tax. It has been widely suspected that both sides feared retreat change.
The new conversation should include ideas that bring both sides together. ASSET offers one of those ideas. A revenue neutral way to collect estate tax, but save jobs. An estate tax without an escape clause. While advocates for full repeal consider their options with the next presidency and next Senate, we can do something to prevent job losses and spur economic activity with an optional method of estate tax collection that first does no harm. Isn’t that the American Way?