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INSIDE WASHINGTON: Discussion of tax reform picks upINSIDE WASHINGTON: Discussion of tax reform picks up

Expectation is for legislation from two tax-writing committees to move through committees this fall under regular order.

Jacqui Fatka

August 3, 2017

3 Min Read
INSIDE WASHINGTON: Discussion of tax reform picks up

After months of meeting regularly, the leaders of the House Ways & Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee have committed to developing and drafting legislation that will result in what they say is the first comprehensive tax reform in a generation.

The White House and U.S. Department of the Treasury have met with more than 200 members of the House and Senate and hundreds of grassroots and business groups to talk to and hear their ideas about tax reform. A coalition of agricultural groups met with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at the White House July 25.

Congressional leaders and Administration officials have released a statement on tax reform that addresses many issues of importance to America’s farm and ranch families. These reforms are focused on lowering tax rates to help the middle class get ahead, allowing unprecedented capital expensing for businesses, creating a system that brings back jobs and profits trapped overseas and locking these reforms in for the long term.

A huge relief within the statement released on tax reform was abandonment of the border adjustment tax (BAT), which many in agriculture feared would make agricultural products uncompetitive or result in backlash against U.S. agriculture.

“While we have debated the pro-growth benefits of border adjustability, we appreciate that there are many unknowns associated with it and have decided to set this policy aside in order to advance tax reform,” the joint statement said.

The statement said the expectation is that legislation from the two tax-writing committees will move through the committees this fall, under regular order, followed by consideration on the House and Senate floors. The leaders said they hope to find bipartisan support.

In reaction to the statement, Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said, “Fixing our tax system now is crucial to creating economic opportunities for farmers, ranchers and other family-owned businesses. This is especially important as farmers continue to face down tough economic challenges.”

The priorities communicated by agricultural groups included maintaining cash accounting, income averaging, business interest deductions and like-kind exchanges for farmers. The groups also expressed support for immediate expensing and repeal of estate taxes while maintaining the stepped-up basis.

"We're thankful that Secretary Mnuchin took the time to listen to our priorities, and we look forward to working with him and his team as comprehensive tax reform legislation is drafted and makes its way through Congress," National Cattlemen’s Beef Assn. director of government affairs Danielle Beck said after the meeting. "He reiterated his support for many of our priorities, including a full and permanent repeal of the death tax."

The BUILD Coalition, which has advocated to retain the ability to fully deduct business expenses, appreciated what it views as a “fresh approach” to tax reform.

"As policy-makers turn to the details, the BUILD Coalition encourages them to remain focused on achieving their goal of pro-growth tax reform. Essential to this effort is maintaining the full deductibility of interest expense for all businesses, regardless of size or sector, so they can continue to make the long-term investments that create U.S. jobs and help drive growth,” the coalition said.

Duvall added that farmers and ranchers face numerous challenges, so it is important to recognize that this creates special circumstances in regard to taxes.

“This move sets the stage for Congress to put tax reform on its agenda. Not only will reform strengthen our economy, but by addressing key issues like overall tax rates, capital gains taxes and enhanced expensing, it will be good for farms and other businesses,” he said.

About the Author(s)

Jacqui Fatka

Policy editor, Farm Futures

Jacqui Fatka grew up on a diversified livestock and grain farm in southwest Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications, with a minor in agriculture education, in 2003. She’s been writing for agricultural audiences ever since. In college, she interned with Wallaces Farmer and cultivated her love of ag policy during an internship with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, working in Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Capitol Hill press office. In 2003, she started full time for Farm Progress companies’ state and regional publications as the e-content editor, and became Farm Futures’ policy editor in 2004. A few years later, she began covering grain and biofuels markets for the weekly newspaper Feedstuffs. As the current policy editor for Farm Progress, she covers the ongoing developments in ag policy, trade, regulations and court rulings. Fatka also serves as the interim executive secretary-treasurer for the North American Agricultural Journalists. She lives on a small acreage in central Ohio with her husband and three children.

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