A compilation of the business tax related stories that caught our eye
Hatch Tax Reform Report
For weeks, there had been K Street rumors of a “secret” tax reform plan being put together by in-coming Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT). Apparently, the “Comprehensive Tax Reform for 2015 and Beyond” report released yesterday is it, although it’s not so much a plan as an analysis of the current code and the challenges policymakers will face in reforming it. After a quick review, it’s obvious the Finance Republican staff spent an enormous amount of time and effort putting this together and it shows. As our friends at Politico summarized:
Before lawmakers can reform the tax code, they need to understand it.
Towards that end, incoming Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch released a nearly 350-page report today on all-things tax reform.
It traces the history of the tax code, and efforts to reform it, as well as issues ranging from patent boxes to refundable credits to the case for moving to a territorial system, along with what, exactly, is a territorial system.
From the pass-through business community’s perspective, there’s lots to like here, particularly the report’s emphasis on integrating the corporate code with the individual code to eliminate the double tax on corporate income. We’ve been advocating for corporate integration for years.
The report also advocates for comprehensive reform, another priority of the Main Street business community. Here’s what it says:
Tax reform also needs to address the more than 90 percent of U.S. businesses organized as pass-through entities, such as partnerships, S corporations, limited liability companies and sole proprietorships. According to recent data, approximately 58 percent of all net business income in the United States is earned by pass-through entities.22 If real estate investment trusts and mutual funds are included as pass-through entities, then the percentage rises to 78 percent.23 Because of these numbers, it is important that we approach tax reform in a comprehensive manner, addressing both the individual and corporate tax systems. As the data show, both systems are intertwined and must be looked at in the whole.
On the other hand, the report does signal just how much work the pass through community has in educating policy makers on the importance of pass through businesses to jobs and investment. The chapter on business tax issues is wholly dominated by corporate concerns, while the subchapter on pass through tax issues is only three pages long. More on this to come.
Ryan Ellis of Americans for Tax Reform reminds us in his recent Forbes article that corporate inversions are driven by bad tax policy, not bad corporations. He writes:
To say the least, the United States has not created a friendly tax environment for our largest employers. They face the highest marginal income tax rate in the developed world (whether they are corporations with a 40 percent rate or flow-through firms with a nearly 50 percent rate).
…There should be a giant notice at the top of every business tax form released by the IRS which says, “Get out of our country, and take your jobs and capital with you.” Corporate inversions are a natural and a regrettable side effect of this treatment.”
Last month, your S-Corp team was popping champagne corks when we learned that congressional leaders had reached an agreement to make permanent several of our priorities – including the five-year built-in gains holding period – as part of a broader extenders package. We then had to put the corks back in the bottles (not easy) when a preemptive veto threat from the White House dismantled the deal.
We are now left with Plan B – an extension of expired provisions for tax year 2014 only. The legislation, which was passed last week by the House, retroactively renews the provisions going back to the start of 2014 and would therefore expire just a few weeks after passage. So starting January 1, we’ll be right back at it.
This week the White House further demonstrated its aversion to permanent tax provisions when it issued a veto threat against legislation that would lock in three charitable provisions. According to the Hill, the bill would “…permanently extend preferences for donations of excess food inventory; waive some limitations for donations of land to conservation easements; and make permanent a provision allowing tax-free donations from Individual Retirement Account funds.” That package is now dead too.