The House Ways and Means Committee approved revisions to the GOP tax legislation—changes that would trim the bill’s cost, putting it within the $1.5 trillion limit set by the congressional budget.
The panel’s vote sends the measure to the full House for a vote, perhaps as soon as next week. Provisions including increasing the rates applied to companies’ offshore profits and changes to research and experimentation expenses that would help to generate almost $180 billion. It would result in a total cost of $1.4 trillion over a decade, according to an estimate from the Joint Committee on Taxation.
The last-minute rewrite shows just what a difficult balance House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady and House Speaker Paul Ryan have to strike to incorporate demands from lawmakers and lobbyists, without blowing past the deficit limit of $1.5 trillion.
The bill could still change again when it’s considered by the Rules Committee. The panel could make changes before sending it to the House floor.
Here’s an overview of some of the changes:
The new version restores the adoption credit.
Originally, the House bill eliminated the credit, which is currently worth as much as $13,750 per eligible child.
The amendment offers several provisions that it says will make it easier for smaller businesses to succeed and grow. The changes include providing a new tax rate of 9 percent for businesses earning less than $75,000 in income. The benefit is phased out as taxable income exceeds $150,000 and fully phased out at $225,000. The National Federation of Independent Business supports the amendment and will back the bill, said Jack Mozloom, a spokesman for the group. NFIB had said it was opposed to the original legislation last week.
The bill would still limit access to the new 25 percent tax rate. For business owners, just 30 percent of their income would qualify for that rate; the remaining 70 percent would be treated as wages. Or they could use a formula based on their level of capital investment to determine how much income would get the new rate.
Amortization of Research and Experimentation Expenses
The amendment says that certain research or experimental expenses are required to be capitalized and amortized over a 5-year period, for expenses made during taxable years after 2023.
The amendment imposes an 8 percent surtax on life insurance company taxable income, which replaces parts of the original bill that had targeted deferred acquisition costs and reserves for companies in that sector.
The 8 percent surtax is listed as a placeholder. Still, the move is a “notable potential negative” for life insurers and could create substantial pushback from the industry, according to KBW Inc. analyst Ryan Krueger.
The amendment says companies that use loans to finance their high-cost inventory—such as car dealers—will be given the ability to completely write off their interest payments. In exchange, those businesses won’t be able to immediately write off their capital investments.
The original House bill hadn’t specified that carve out when it called for limiting interest deductions to 30 percent of a company’s adjusted earnings.
Non-Qualified Deferred Compensation
The amendment scratches the provision that would have accelerated taxation of money put away into non-qualified deferred compensation plans.
The earlier version would have taxed deferrals as soon as they weren’t at risk of being forfeiture instead of when they eventually paid out. That likely would have led hundreds of U.S. companies to scrap such programs altogether, affecting scores of top executives who use them to beef up retirement savings.
The amendment would boost proposed rates on trillions of dollars of U.S. companies’ overseas income to 14 percent on income held as cash and 7 percent on non-cash holdings.
The bill that Brady released a week ago proposed rates of 12 percent and 5 percent for companies’ offshore cash piles.
—With assistance from Mark Niquette, Katherine Chiglinsky and Anders Melin