Legislative Activity

Ways and Means, Finance Committees Welcome New Members

Kicking off the 115th Congress, both the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees have announced their updated rosters. Joining Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) on the House Ways and Means Committee will be Representatives Dave Schweikert (R-AZ), Jackie Walorski (R-IN), and Carlos Curbelo (R-FL). On the Democratic side, newly appointed Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-MA) will be joined by Representatives Brian Higgins (D-NY), Terri Sewell (D-AL), and Suzan DelBene (D-WA). Not wasting any time, the Committee held an organizational meeting last week during which it adopted several rules changes, including: (1) holding a regular meeting each Wednesday while the House is in session (opposed to once a month); (2) adding “communicating information about the Committee’s activities to the public” to the existing purposes of the Committee website; (3) striking the requirement that the Subcommittee on Oversight’s jurisdiction shall be limited to “existing law”; (4) increasing the number of seats on the Subcommittee on Tax Policy from 14 to 15 and increasing the number of Democrat seats on the same subcommittee from 5 to 6; and (5) adding a provision allowing members to request access to electronic versions of unofficial markup transcripts. According to Chairman Brady, these rules underscore the Committee’s commitment to tax reform – something which is also reflected in the recent meeting that Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) had with President-Elect Trump.

On the Senate side, the Finance Committee will welcome two new members to its midst: Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO).

This Week’s Hearings:

  • Thursday, January 12: The Senate Finance Committee has scheduled a confirmation hearing on the nomination of Mr. Steven Mnuchin to be Secretary of the United States Treasury.

Regulatory Activity

IRS Issues Post-Inversion Regulations as Taxpayer Advocate Issues Report

Last week, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued final and temporary regulations (T.D. 9812) providing guidance on determining stock ownership and rules regarding inversions and related transactions. The final regulations adopt, with certain changes, proposed regulations issued in 2016. (REG-135734-14). The temporary regulations amend regulation sections 1.7874-7T (disregard of some stock attributable to passive assets), 1.7874-10T (disregard of some distributions), and some definitions under reg. section 1.7874-12T; the text of the temporary regulations also serves as the text of concurrently issued proposed regulations.

Separately, last week the National Taxpayer Advocate submitted her report to Congress, highlighting that the U.S. needs a simpler tax code and a service-centered IRS – both of which are principles expressed in the House Ways and Means Committee’s tax reform “Blueprint.” Among other notable items, the report highlights that if Congress were to eliminate all tax spending, it could cut individual income tax rates by 47 percent and generate the same amount of revenue. According to Nina Olson, National Taxpayer Advocate, the report should serve as the basis for Congress’ debate on how to overhaul the U.S. tax Code.