The leaders of the Senate Finance Committee, chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and ranking Democrat Ron Wyden, D-Ore., have revived a bipartisan effort to solicit ideas from interested members of the public and other stakeholders on how best to overhaul the tax code to make it simpler, fairer and more efficient. 

The goal, they said, is to provide additional input, data, and information to the committee’s bipartisan tax working groups, which are currently analyzing the existing tax laws and examining policy trade-offs and reform options within each group’s area. 

In the previous Congress, former House Ways and Committee chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., and former Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., teamed up on a similar effort. They held numerous hearings and met with groups across the country, while also soliciting ideas from the public through Twitter and a Web site, and drafted numerous papers. But the initiative did not lead to the passage of the kind of comprehensive tax reform legislation they had envisioned.

Hatch and Wyden hope their effort will be more successful, although next year’s elections are likely to increase the hurdles for passing a tax reform bill. They have been holding a series of hearings on tax reform, including one on Tuesday on tax simplification in which they heard testimony from a CPA, Carol Markman, a tax director at EP Caine & Associates CPA LLC in Westbury, N.Y., along with other experts.

“By opening up our bipartisan working groups to public input, we hope to gain a greater understanding of how tax policy affects individuals, businesses, and civic groups across our nation,” Hatch and Wyden said in a joint statement. “In doing so, we will also equip our working groups with valuable input, and we hope these suggestions will help guide the groups through the arduous task of putting forth substantive ideas to reform the tax code in each of their areas.”

Individuals, businesses, organizations and advocacy groups interested in submitting comments can send an email to the bipartisan group or groups listed below that relates to their area of interest. They can also send submissions to each group of jurisdictions if an interest area covers more than one group: 

Individual Income Tax -
Business Income Tax -
Savings & Investment -
International Tax -
Community Development & Infrastructure -

The Finance Committee leaders also provided some additional submission requirements:

•    All submissions should be submitted as a pdf attachment. The attachment should be saved using the name of the organization or individual submitting the recommendations.

•    Parties should list the name of the tax working group they wish to contact in the subject line of the email.

•    Include contact name, organization (if the submission is being submitted on behalf of a group), phone number and email address in the body of the email.

•    Submissions will be accepted through April 15, 2015, and made public at a later date.

•    If the above directions are not followed, the Senate Finance Committee said it would reserve the right to not include the submission.

•    If technical problems are encountered, parties can contact the committee at (202) 224-4515.

Each of the five bipartisan working groups is currently working to produce findings on current tax policies and legislative recommendations within its area, with the goal of completing their recommendations by the end of May. Submissions will be reviewed by the working groups and ideas can be incorporated into the each working group’s final recommendations. The five working groups’ recommendations will be delivered to chairman Hatch and ranking member Wyden, and will be considered in developing bipartisan tax reform legislation.

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