Ways and Means Committee to Hold Tax Reform Hearings

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By Colleen Murphy

Interest deductibility and the controversial border adjustment tax provision could be topics in forthcoming House Ways and Means Committee tax reform hearings.

Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), chairman of the Tax Policy Subcommittee, said while he hasn’t formalized a list of hearing topics, those areas—laid out in the House GOP tax-rewrite blueprint—are “part of the same milieu” he plans to highlight. Roskam will be the one to decide hearing topics and witnesses, committee members confirmed.

“We’re working on that. We’ve got a good story to tell and we also want to get good feedback and input all the way around on these themes of growth, simplicity, dealing with base erosion and making sure we’re talking about a permanent code,” Roskam said April 5. “They’re obviously important, and people want to learn more and we want to describe more.”

The plan to hold hearings stands in contrast to the lead-up to a health-care bill that fell apart last month. House leaders decided not to hold hearings on that bill in the days before a vote, citing years of discussions about the need to replace the Affordable Care Act. But the speed of negotiations and the lack of public discussion left Republicans across the conference saying a tax overhaul must be a more deliberative process.

The hearings could also touch on issues like retirement accounts, but will be largely “focused in Tax Policy and the full committee,” committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) told reporters.

IRS Deep Dive

The blueprint proposes a dramatic restructuring of the Internal Revenue Service and could result in moving the criminal investigation function out of the agency. Committee members expect those changes to be “very widely accepted” because of concerns about the IRS, Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Texas) said.

Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), chairman of the Oversight Subcommittee, said he hopes to hold hearings on those reforms as well as on IRS overpayments, Medicare fraud and Social Security fraud. Hearings will occur before the end of the year, he said.

Buchanan said he’s open to working with the IRS on what changes should be made. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has previously said the Service needs to be in the loop before Congress decides how to change the maligned agency.

“We really want to go in to figure out where we’re at and what needs to be done. There’s a lot of adjustments that could be done to make it more efficient,” Buchanan said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Colleen Murphy in Washington at cmurphy@bna.com

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

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