House approves two tax reform bills

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The House passed two of the three bills in the Tax Reform 2.0 package on Thursday relating to family savings and startup expensing, and a vote is expected Friday on the main bill that would extend the individual taxpayer and pass-through business provisions in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act beyond 2025.

The House passed both the Family Savings Act and the American Innovation Act on Thursday afternoon and a vote is expected Friday on the Protecting Family and Small Business Tax Cuts Act of 2018. However, the Senate is not expected to approve any of the bills before the end of the year, as they would need a 60-vote majority to overcome the threat of a filibuster. Republicans won’t be able to use a reconciliation procedure as they did when they passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act last December.

“House Republicans showed the American people today that we’re committed to changing the culture in Washington where we used to do tax reform only once a generation,” said House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, in a statement. “These two bills ensure American families have the resources they need to save more and earlier and give future entrepreneurs the tools to move from the kitchen table to Main Street and beyond. Tax Policy Chairman Vern Buchanan and Rep. Mike Kelly led the charge on these efforts, and this legislation is going to make a real difference for families, new businesses, and communities across the country. I also look forward to our vote tomorrow on the final component of Tax Reform 2.0, when we will get the chance to permanently lock in tax relief for our workers and small businesses.”

The Family Savings Act would create a Universal Savings Account for family savings, expanding section 529 education savings accounts to pay for apprenticeship fees to learn a trade, cover the cost of home schooling and help pay off student debt. The bill would eliminate the age 70 1/2 restriction for contributing to individual retirement accounts. It would permit families to access their own retirement accounts penalty-free for expenses when welcoming a new child into the family by birth or adoption. The American Innovation Act of 2018, would enable startup businesses to write off more of their initial costs. It also fixes a problem in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act related to net operating losses that has sparked complaints among venture capital firms and biotechnology startups.

An insurance industry representative praised the passage of the Family Savings Act, which passed with a vote of 240 to 177. “The Family Savings Act (H.R. 6757) passed by the U.S. House of Representatives is an important first step toward enhancing America’s retirement system,” said American Council of Life Insurers President and CEO Susan Neely in a statement. “This bill comes at a critical time for retirement savers. Every day, 10,000 Americans reach age 65. And, many people can expect to live 20 years, 30 years or longer in retirement. The Family Savings Act will go a long way toward helping Americans save for retirement and ensure their savings last a lifetime.”

She noted that the bill would expand access to retirement plans by encouraging small employers to join together to take advantage of economies of scale to offer their workers a 401(k) or similar plan. Another part of the bill aims to continue lifetime income protections for savers who participate in plans undergoing changes. A provision added by Brady would also make it easier for employers to offer annuities in their retirement plans. Annuities can guarantee lifetime income and can help employers offer a plan that resembles in certain ways a traditional pension that guarantees a paycheck for life to a retiree.

The National Venture Capital Association applauded the passage of the American Innovation Act of 2018, which passed by a vote of 260 to 156. The bill includes a provision that allow startup businesses to carry forward their net operating losses and research and development tax credits accrued in the company’s first three years without regard to Section 382 of the tax code, which currently can lead to a tax penalty for startups.

“We are thrilled to see growing momentum on the critical issue of NOL reform for startups,” said NVCA President and CEO Bobby Franklin in a statement. “Reforming NOLs will allow for more investment into capital-intensive startups, will attract investment into non-coastal communities, and will level the playing field between startups and larger incumbent companies. We appreciate the hard work and leadership of those who championed this issue in the House, especially Chairman Kevin Brady and Rep. Erik Paulsen, and we look forward to continuing to work with policymakers and stakeholders in the Senate so that we can ultimately create an effective NOL safe harbor for startups investing in innovation.”

A biotech industry group, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, also cheered the legislation, pointing to the NOL provision. “The American Innovation Act’s reform of net operating loss limitations will foster more investment, economic growth, job creation, and continued American leadership in biopharmaceutical and bio-based technology innovation,” said BIO President and CEO Jim Greenwood in a statement. ”I applaud the House of Representatives for passing this important legislation, and I thank Chairman Brady, Congressmen Paulsen and Buchanan, and their colleagues on the House Ways & Means Committee for their leadership in advancing this welcome reform.”

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