Senate Finance Committee chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, is asking for ideas, proposals and feedback on tax reform as efforts in Congress heat up on overhauling the federal tax code.

Hatch leads one of the main tax committees in Congress. He recently expressed his openness to changing Senate budget rules to allow tax cuts to be approved for longer than the traditional 10-year budget window with just a 51-vote threshold, even if they add to the deficit (see GOP momentum builds to change rules for longer-lasting tax cuts). Senate Republicans anticipate using a budget reconciliation maneuver to pass their tax reform package as they aren’t counting on votes from Democrats, and they control only 52 votes in the chamber.

The Senate GOP’s tax reform plan is still in flux, and is likely to draw from both the House Republican plan advanced last year by Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and the vague one-page Trump administration plan issued in April by the White House and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Hatch’s request for feedback Friday signaled a new openness to further input, in contrast to recent criticism that a small group of Senate Republicans are working behind closed doors on their version of the Obamacare repeal-and-replace legislation, the American Health Care Act, which was passed by the House earlier this year (see Senate GOP writing Obamacare repeal behind closed doors). Republicans hope to pass the AHCA before tax reform legislation because of the way the current budget rules work in terms of a baseline for taxes and spending.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, at a Senate hearing
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, at a Senate hearing

Hatch is looking for recommendations on the following areas:

1. Providing tax relief to middle-class individuals and families through reforms to the individual income tax system;

2. Strengthening both large and small businesses by lowering tax rates and broadening the tax base;

3. Removing impediments and disincentives for savings and investment that exist in the current tax code; and

4. Updating the U.S.’s international tax system to make the country more competitive in the global economy and preserve its tax base.

“After years of committee hearings, public statements, working groups and conceptual exercises, Congress is poised to make significant steps toward comprehensive tax reform,” Hatch wrote in a letter Friday. “Members from both parties have acknowledged the shortcomings of our current tax system and the need for meaningful reforms to encourage economic growth and alleviate many of the burdens imposed on hardworking taxpayers … As we work to achieve those goals, it is essential that Congress has the best possible advice and insight from experts and stakeholders.”

Submissions and comments can be sent to the Senate Finance Committee at taxreform2017@finance.senate.gov. Hatch’s office said all submissions will be carefully examined and considered as Congress works on overhauling the U.S. tax code. To ensure privacy, all submissions will be kept confidential. The deadline is July 17, 2017.

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Michael Cohn

Michael Cohn

Michael Cohn, editor-in-chief of AccountingToday.com, has been covering business and technology for a variety of publications since 1985.