Treasury Circumvents Two-for-One by Taking ‘Deregulatory’ Actions

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By Allyson Versprille and Laura Davison

Few Treasury Department regulations will be subject to the president’s directive requiring federal agencies to eliminate two regulations for every new one, because most of the department’s actions are “deregulatory,” according to a department report.

“Treasury has begun to implement Executive Order 13771’s directive that each regulatory action considered ‘significant’ for purposes of Executive Order 12866 should be offset by two deregulatory actions that together account for any incremental increase in costs,” the department said in an April 24 report.

Pursuant to EO 13771, “Treasury’s forward-looking Fall 2017 Regulatory Agenda focuses on burden-reducing measures” and only two of the significant regulations on that agenda are considered regulatory, according to the report. “The remaining significant actions are deregulatory or have not yet been classified.”

President Donald Trump signed the “two-for-one” executive order Jan. 30, 2017. After it was issued, several tax practitioners expressed concern that the directive could hinder the regulatory process at Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service—a concern that was heightened by the passage of the 2017 tax act ( Pub. L. No. 115-97). People who work in the tax sector worried that the executive order would prevent the IRS and Treasury from issuing much-needed guidance on the new law.

Glenn Dance, a former IRS official who is now a managing director at Grant Thornton LLP in Washington, told Bloomberg Tax in an email that he expects “embedding provisions into regulations to make them deregulatory will become a bit of an art form.”

Treasury in the April 24 report said none of the actions it has taken since Trump issued EO 13771 are considered “regulatory” for purposes of the directive.

“Whatever it takes to get out the guidance we need as practitioners is all good by me,” said Dance, who left the IRS in September 2017 and participated in exercises to identify opportunities to deregulate pursuant to the goals of the Trump administration.

To contact the reporters on this story: Allyson Versprille in Washington at aversprille@bloombergtax.com; Laura Davison in Washington at ldavison@bloombergtax.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Meg Shreve at mshreve@bloombergtax.com

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