Amid continuing gridlock in Congress that has held up agreement between Democrats and Republicans on tax reform, the leaders of the Senate Finance Committee outlined a series of hearings this summer aimed at moving forward on the effort.

[IMGCAP(1)]Senate Finance Committee chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and ranking Republican member Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, announced the first in a series of committee hearings this summer to examine several issue areas that are essential to a modern, effective tax code.

The scheduled hearings include one in June on education tax incentives, another in July on identity theft and taxpayer privacy protection, and another hearing in July on modernizing corporate taxation.

“This summer, the Senate Finance Committee will forge ahead with hearings that examine reforming the broken, dysfunctional tax code in areas ranging from taxpayer privacy protection to education to corporate taxation,” Wyden and Hatch said in a statement last Thursday. “When it comes to tax policy, comprehensive tax reform is our ultimate objective, and we are committed to using these hearings as the building blocks to that goal.  These hearings will provide the committee with the information necessary to create a simplified tax code that promotes long-term growth and ensures economic prosperity for the American people. We will also continue to look for innovative ways to fix the depleted Highway Trust Fund and keep hard-working Americans on the job without diverting revenues from repatriation needed for tax reform. We look forward to engaging with our committee colleagues and constituents over the course of these hearings.”

[IMGCAP(2)]In February, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ken., voiced their skepticism about the prospects for tax reform this year. Republican lawmakers generally want to lower the tax rates, but keep the reforms revenue neutral. “We can’t get that out of this majority leader and this president,” McConnell said, according to the Washington Examiner. “So I think we will not be able to finish the job regretfully in 2014.”

Reid said he wasn’t insisting on raising revenues but admitted that passing a comprehensive tax reform bill in a critical election year like 2014 would be “extremely difficult.”

Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate also remain at odds on tax extenders legislation for renewing dozens of expired tax credits, and the prospects for passing such legislation appear to be dim until after the midterm elections in November. Reid told reporters last week that Republicans were using filibuster tactics to block a vote on the bill, according to Business Insider, while Republicans have complained that Democrats are preventing them from offering amendments.

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