Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has been confirmed as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, succeeding Max Baucus, D-Mont., who was confirmed last week as Ambassador to China.
Wyden, who was confirmed Wednesday night, is expected to continue the bipartisan efforts at tax reform that his predecessor had been carrying out with the chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich. Baucus and Camp have released a series of proposals and discussion drafts about various aspects of tax reform, but the prospects for meaningful tax reform are murky in an election year. Camp is reportedly set to release a more concrete set of proposals for overhauling the Tax Code in the next few weeks, according to The Hill.
Last week, Wyden outlined a number of his tax agenda preferences during a speech at a tax conference in California, according to Howard Gleckman of the Tax Policy Center in a post on the TPC’s TaxVox blog and Forbes.com. Among them are narrowing the gap between the taxation of investment income and ordinary income, increasing the standard deduction significantly, and simplifying and expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit.
In 2010, Wyden introduced the Bipartisan Tax Fairness and Simplification Act, which was co-sponsored at the time by Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., who has since retired. The bill’s current Republican co-sponsor is Dan Coats, R-Ind., but according to Gleckman, Wyden said he is open to revising the proposal to attract wider bipartisan support. The bill would reduce the current number of tax brackets to three: 15, 25 and 35 percent. It would nearly triple the amount of the standard deduction for individuals. For small businesses with gross annual receipts of up to $1 million, the bill would allow them to permanently expense all equipment and inventory costs in a single year.
Corporate tax lobbyists are also hoping to see tax reform from Wyden. “Senator Wyden has long-been a proponent of comprehensive tax reform that lowers rates, simplifies the code and helps businesses compete in the international marketplace, said the co-chairs of the RATE Coalition, Elaine Kamarck, a former White House adviser to President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore, and James P. Pinkerton, a former White House domestic policy adviser to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, in a statement. “Since the code was last reformed in 1986, few leaders have worked as tirelessly as Senator Wyden to create jobs, accelerate growth, and expand economic opportunity. We congratulate him on his selection.”