Foreign Minimum Tax: A Primer

Although light on details, the recent statement on tax reform from the “Big 6” group of Republican Congressional and White House policymakers provided two important hints on the direction that tax reform may be heading. First, the Big 6 remain dedicated to imposing a “system that encourages American companies to bring back jobs and profits trapped overseas.” Whether this means true international tax reform or merely lower tax rates at home is up for debate. However, if international tax reform remains a goal, the joint statement made clear that it will not be accomplished by way of a destination-based cash flow tax (a “DBCFT”). Continue Reading

Senate Democrats Announce Their Terms

45 out of 48 Senate Democrats signed a letter to President Trump, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) today, urging Republicans to work with them on tax reform. The olive branch, of course, came with terms:

  • No increase in the tax burden on the middle class
  • No tax cuts for the top 1%
  • Tax Reform is accomplished through regular order, not the budget reconciliation process
  • Tax Reform is deficit neutral

The full letter is available here. Aside from the request to pursue tax reform through regular order, the Democrat’s terms look remarkably similar to positions publicly supported by the Big 6 (check out our infographic). Continue Reading

(Re)Setting the Stage for Comprehensive Tax Reform: Big Six Send First Signals

The Legislative Calendar: Six Months In.  With yesterday’s late night last ditch failed effort by the Senate to pass a so-called “skinny” repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the Republican controlled chamber has nearly run the clock on its strategy for passing major legislation by majority vote, which relied on reconciliation instructions under the FY 2017 budget resolution (a process we highlighted back in December). Congress will soon need to adopt budget resolutions for the 2018 fiscal year if regular order is to be readopted and any progress is to be made on the President’s budget proposals (which are traditionally only a starting point for negotiations). Continue Reading

Senate Releases Draft Healthcare Bill

Thursday morning the Senate publicly released a discussion draft of its version of a healthcare bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The tax provisions in the bill are materially the same as those in the bill the House passed in May (which we covered here and here), the differences mainly relate to effective dates for the various provisions, which generally vary by only a year (we expect these effective dates to be the subject of negotiation between the House and Senate, especially depending on the CBO’s analysis of this Senate draft).

Notably, the Senate draft retains the House bill’s retroactive repeal (effective for taxable years starting after December 31, 2016) of the 3.8% tax on certain net investment income under Section 1411 of the Code. Continue Reading

Prospects for Tax Reform in 2017?

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) addressed the National Association of Manufacturers on Tuesday in an effort to build support for tax reform, emphasizing the unique, and diminishing, window of opportunity that exists to enact permanent tax reform ahead of next year’s primaries and midterm elections. According to his press office, this speech marks the beginning of his “sales pitch” for tax reform in 2017. Speaker Ryan’s prepared remarks are available here. You can also watch his speech here (starting at 1:41:34).

Here are the key takeaways:

  • Republicans Are Aiming for End of 2017:  Speaker Ryan said that lawmakers would “begin to turn” their plan into legislation to put in front of Congress, and promised to “get this done in 2017.” We have heard this line before, both from Speaker Ryan and from Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin during the press conference unveiling Trump’s tax principles.
Continue Reading

The Latest in the Online Sales Tax Saga

Earlier this month, Massachusetts became the latest state to more aggressively pursue sales tax on online purchases, going beyond other states to expand the definition of physical presence to include cookies, apps and server presence with a new directive effective July 1. While these changes may mean a significant revenue bump for Massachusetts, legislative and legal challenges have already begun.

What does the Directive Do?  Under the State’s existing sales tax rules, retailers that are engaged in making “taxable sales” in Massachusetts or that sell “taxable products” for use in Massachusetts are required to collect and remit sales tax if the retailer is engaged in a business in Massachusetts. Continue Reading

DBCFT Still Not Dead (to Brady)

At a WSJ conference yesterday, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) gave a few tantalizing hints as to the content of the much anticipated house tax reform bill. Most notably, Brady suggested that the bill would include a DBCFT that is phased in over a five-year transition period. This is intended to respond to a number of concerns, including the fear that currencies may not adjust immediately (click here for the Tax Foundation’s summary of the concerns alleviated by, and new concerns raised by, a five-year transition).

Brady also reaffirmed that certain industries (financial services, communications, insurance and digitally-focused businesses) would be subject to “special treatment” under the DBCFT. Continue Reading

An Update on the DBCFT: A Hearing in the House and Trump’s Budget

In advance of yesterday’s House Ways and Means Committee hearing on tax reform, the Joint Committee on Taxation released its own comprehensive report on destination-based taxation and border adjustments. The report gives an overview of the current state of U.S. international taxation and then delves into the economics of border adjustments, including a summary of the academic literature on associated exchange rate (or other wage or price) adjustments such that exporters would not be advantaged and importers would not be disadvantaged (defined as “trade neutrality,” which we’ve previously explored here and here). Although the JCT ultimately does not take a view on whether the proposed destination-based cash flow tax would achieve this “trade neutrality,” the report does suggest that any currency adjustments would not happen quickly or, perhaps, evenly among importers and exporters, citing empirical studies that conclude that changes in consumer prices affected by exchange rate adjustments happen asymmetrically. Continue Reading

Back to Basics: Camp Plan Revisited

As the Trump administration and House and Senate leaders huddle to find a path to permanent tax reform, the detailed draft legislation released in 2014 by former Rep. Dave Camp will be among the ideas considered.

Relative to the Blueprint, the Camp proposal takes a traditional approach to tax reform, with a focus on broadening the tax base to achieve lower tax rates.  We will consider various elements of the Camp plan and begin today with a recap of certain of its international components.

Territoriality.  In a significant move toward a territorial system, U.S. corporations that receive dividends from 10%-owned non-U.S. Continue Reading

Updates on Tax Reform and the Tax-Exempt Sector

President Trump and Congress have recently undertaken measures to preserve the ability of tax-exempt organizations to engage in limited forms of political speech, and efforts in Congress may signal a willingness to provide further relief to tax-exempt organizations.

The Presidential Executive Order.  On May 4, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order entitled “Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty” that directs the executive branch “to vigorously enforce Federal law’s robust protections for religious freedom.”  The executive order further instructs the Treasury Department, to the extent permitted by law, not to “take any adverse action against any individual, house of worship, or other religious organization” that discusses moral or political issues from a religious perspective, but only where such speech has not ordinarily been treated by the Treasury Department as the endorsement of or opposition to political candidates.  Continue Reading

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